Saturday, December 16, 2023

Goals Your students Can Do

I am writing this as I finish up my first semester back in the classroom after 7 years as a tech coach. Whew! It has been an adjustment! First, it was in a new district. Second, it was an unconventional semester due to a pending change in the master schedule. And third, only recently have I felt myself getting into the groove and settling in (is that a sign of age???). 

Let me be clear - the staff have been great and the kids are great. But it has been change - and a big one for me. Reflecting on this time, I really do appreciate the way this transition worked out.

I spent this semester teaching coding classes. Some of the students were really into coding and some not so much. Some were confident with coding and a few could already run circles around me, but some were relatively new to coding. I saw very quickly this was not going to be a "one size fits all" class.

We started out with an inventory regarding their skill, interest, and what they wanted to do/learn about coding. Then we covered some "must have's" and "cannot's" in a program. From here, they evaluated Common Sense Media's list of "Best Coding Programs for Middle School' based on our requirements. We ended up with a handful of resources.

Enter Catlin Tuckers Goal sheet. I came across this right about the same time as we finished up our evaluations and I had a lightbulb moment. What if each student decided what THEY wanted to accomplish in coding, and from there, selected the resource that would best support them? Bingo!

To better facilitate this for them, I created a modified version of Catlin's goal sheet as well as a guide for the students. I called it "Coding Goal & Pathway". I broke the middle column down. The "How will I get there?" included a spot for an academic path, an application path, and a career path. Each student received the goal sheet on paper. They referred to the rest on their computer.

The "academic path" was to ensure a resource for them to do specific learning about coding.
The "application path" was the program they were choosing to create their project in/on.
And the "career path" was meant to expose them to future potential paths. 

Students were given the paper part and time to work through the goal setting process. Quite a few had great ideas for what they wanted to create or work on. And after having worked through the evaluation of the potential programs, most easily settled on the academic path that worked for them. We ended up having several "career exploration days" where we did this portion of their goals. As class progressed, I did check ins and provided support and feedback. They also took turns sharing their projects.

I believe it went well! I had several students complete their goal and move on to a second one. I also have a few that are continuing to work on their projects. I'm excited to see they want to continue to build and improve what they started.

Next semester I'm excited to have 6th graders. The focus of this class will be technology skills. I've got lots of goodies planned for them!

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Saturday, November 11, 2023

Planners Your Students Can Do

In late September, I shared how I have helped students with organization - they need a lot of help! - and I promised I'd be back with my thoughts on planners. It's 2023 - most schools are in 1-to-1 situations, so I'm sure the assumption is planners should also be digital, right? I disagree!

As with most of my advice, there is NO clear answer. There is NO "one-size-fits-all" answer either. There ARE a lot of factors to consider and there are a lot of options. That's part of the problem. Let's break it down ...

Factors to consider:
  • AGE - the younger the student, the more direct support needed - whether it's on paper or it's digital. This isn't news to you; this is true of everything! Younger students probably should have a paper option, especially if they are not 1:1 with a device they bring home from school.

  • TEAM/DISTRICT guidelines - ideally, you are working with a larger group to scaffold the supports and bigger picture of what using a planner looks like. What does the grade younger than you do ... what about the grade above you?

  • OPTIONS - ... do you have an LMS? ... can you provide paper planners? ... what does the parent side look like?

  • DEVICE SET-UP - if your students are 1:1, do they take them home? If a school device goes home, a digital planner might be a great option. If a school device doesn't go home, a paper planner might be a better option.
When my previous district went 1:1 with chromebooks, it was decided to NOT provide paper planners to our students. I was in a middle school - grades 5-8, I was teaching 7th & 8th - and it might seem like that is the logical step. I took a different approach. I created the following presentation to go over options with my students. Please keep in mind this was roughly 10 years ago ... I've not updated it. 

But it did help ... it showed my students there typically isn't just one way. They don't have to be locked into one path. It showed them they can make decisions. And ultimately, it allowed me to support my students in a manner that helps them.

If your district mandates one method over another, do yourself and your students a favor:

Follow it. Follow it with a passion. 

Don't complain about it to your students. We don't always get to choose our path. Be a good example of what to do when this happens.

Don't make keeping track of work a more difficult path than it needs to be. We are cramming so much content into our students on a regular basis, keep this as easy as possible.

Some kind of planner method is necessary in today's classroom. Picking the one that works best for your students is important, and hopefully can be a building or district wide one to make it something that truly works for ALL of the students, teachers, and parents.

How about you teachers???
Do you have a favorite planner? I am constantly on the look out for that "perfect" planner ... this school year I've got one that is a weekly lay out with a month overview. I'm finding the weekly lay out is my go to. If you've got a favorite, drop it in the comments ... I'd love to check it out! 

*** BONUS if it's a bullet journal!!! I'm fascinated by these, but super intimidated! ***

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Saturday, October 21, 2023

Quick Tip: "Tab-aholics" You Can Do this!

I've recently encountered a few fellow "tab-aholics" who apologized for the number of tabs they had open. I always smile and laugh when I find another member of the the club I fondly refer to as "tab-aholics" ... aka, the people who have what seems to be a ridiculous amount of tabs open. I assure them they aren't alone and that I, too, am part of this club. I take it one step further and usually have several windows open with multiple tabs. And then, even one more step, I have all of my Google accounts set to "Continue where I left off" so when an update needs to push through, or I close Chrome, or my computer restarts unexpectedly, all of my much loved tabs pop right back open for me.

These new tab-aholic club members apologized because they were struggling to find the right tab and I showed them this quick tip. They found it super helpful, I wanted to be sure to put it out there for you, too.

Did you know you have the quick ability to search and locate a desired tab with 2 simple and easy methods?

Method #1: Hover
You can just hover over any tab with your cursor and it will tell you the name of what is open on that tab. It's as simple as that. Just move down the line - or hover of the icon you recognize for the application. Voilà! This is my top choice for finding the tab.

Method #2: Use the "Search tabs" tool
In the upper right corner, you'll find a down facing carrot. Click on it and you'll see a vertical list of your tabs open in this window. Super convenient! Even better, if you're list is longer than the screen, you can start typing next to the magnifying glass and type in a word or so. Boom! 

I use both methods frequently. I know quite a few people who like the ability to group tabs, but I am not one of them ... yet. I might check into that, but if you are interested, here is a great shared write up from Sethi de Clercq, Boosting Productivity with Chrome’s Save Tab Group Feature.

Enjoy a more efficient way to find your tabs!

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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Student Organization You Can Do

Recently, I had a conversation about a topic I love. Organization - specifically, organization for students.

Some students naturally know how to be organized, others can and will learn it, and others will struggle. So what are we to do? 

Often, it feels like a losing battle. But remember, as with most everything, organization IS an important skill that needs to be taught, reinforced, and at times, adjusted. AND, as with most everything, there is NOT a single "right" way. Which is why organization is such a struggle.

Honestly, I loved working with my students on their organization. Together, we'd empty their locker, backpack, and folders. We'd pitch what wasn't needed, make a pile to ask about, and put the things in the place where it made sense. But it had to make sense to the student. Then I'd send them with their pile and ask the other teachers what, if anything, needed to be kept. They'd return with a smaller pile and we'd find a home for it. I am no organization wizard, but I had a heart for those students who'd walk around with papers shoved into folders and lockers that were bursting at the seams. And I'd make the time to help them organize. *full disclosure ... we had a study hall like period I'd utilize for this task* I'd do this several times during the year, as needed.

I taught social studies - a subject that had less pressure on it - so I coordinated with my team when we'd do a locker clean out. Typically, it was at the end of a grading period. It's wild what you find in lockers ... forgotten clothing, school supplies that had never made it to their "requester", even packed lunches the student had chosen to not eat! All amongst the typical random papers and pencils. When you do a locker & backpack clean out, you'll see a different side of your students. And you will find school supplies that need a home.

After a year or so, I got smart. The 1st day of school, I had a box to collect supplies for my team. Sharpies for art class that you won't have until 3rd quarter? No problem! I'll get them to the art teacher. Index cards for science - got you covered! They can all go in this box and live there until needed in science. Post-it notes for ELA - yep, drop them in and they will get moved over to the room. And so on.

Finally, one of my favorite parts ... end of the year. Have you ever looked at the supplies that are going to be thrown away? How about a 1/2 used notebook? Go ahead and rip out the used pages, put them in the recycling bin and I'll put the notebook in a cabinet for a student who really needs it. What will you do with that binder? Toss it? Nope, I'll put that in the cabinet and when someone needs it, it'll be there. When i switched positions, I had filled an entire cabinet with partially used notebooks, another cabinet with folders that had a little love to them, notebook paper, binders, index cards, and pencils. All of these supplies would have been throw away. I never asked questions when a student - even students who didn't come to me for class - needed a supply. Help yourself. [P.s. I never required students to leave supplies ... it was completely voluntary.]

Why do I share this today? 

I'm back teaching in the classroom and I'm part of these kinds of conversations again. I'm back at the middle school level where it is assumed these kids "know" how to organize. Most of them don't, or better put, they don't know how to organize.

The things I shared above are easy things we can do to help our students - ALL of them - get and stay organized. Small, easy tasks ... but ones students don't - no, WON'T - make time for. WE teachers need to make time for them. We need to show them it's important and that it takes a little bit of time and energy. And when we do that, ALL of our students will benefit. I promise.

Soon, I'll share about planners ... do you go digital? Or do you stick with paper? Which is better? 

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Saturday, August 12, 2023

Reflecting on 21 years ...

I have started a new chapter in my professional life. I have changed districts and positions. I know I don't share specifically about my employment or personal life often, but this is a BIG change for me. I've backed off of social media, presenting, and creating because this has consumed my heart. 

It wasn't an easy decision - just ask my husband - but it
IS the right decision for me. July and August have been packed with tears flowing freely; getting together with colleagues; phone calls with friends; and wrapping up the final chapter of my career in Ross. After all, Ross has made me into who I am professionally.

I am excited to take the next steps as the technology teacher for another district's middle school. I will work with 6th, 7th, & 8th grades. I already feel welcomed as a new staff member. And as I am getting to know my new professional home, I am finding quite a few similarities, while at the same time - big differences. 

Change isn't a bad thing (as I'm reminded quite often). Change allows for growth. Change allows for new challenges. Change provides new opportunities.

The infographic below is a quick overview of the last 21 years. Position changes, major life events, even the number of shirts I've collected! (And I was excited to use Canva again to create an infographic!)

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Sunday, July 16, 2023

New Adventures + old email You Can Do

Last week I shared my plan for what to do with your Google Drive if you are moving from one district to another in New Adventures + old files You Can Do . I do NOT recommend using Takeout or Transfer as I firmly believe we are all digital hoarders. If you are making a move, use this as an opportunity to go through your Drive and take what will benefit you, not what will weigh you down - and if your Drive was a mess then, it's not like it's going to clean itself up by moving to a new account!

Something else that you might need or want to look at as you move from one district to another is your Gmail. This one is a bit trickier. You can't really "export" emails. You can export your contacts.  But honestly ... stop and ask yourself ... which ones do you really need? And if you are brutally honest with yourself, I don't think you find there are all that many.

I'm going to share my thoughts - but this is all based on the idea that you have NOT tangled your personal emails with your school emails - meaning you don't handle bills or personal accounts through your school email address. If you DO, PLEASE STOP. I think of it as "multiple identities". Anything to do with home gets done with my personal Gmail. Anything related to my job, through school email. I don't cross these lines. Period.

Just with my Drive, I'm a big user of labels in my Gmail. Here's also where knowing some searching tips comes in really handy. When you find the ones you want to preserve, forward them to the newly created - or personal account - you are using to house the files you are taking with you.

Here are some things to think about:
  • Looking for an email(s) from a specific person? Search their name at the top ... and comb through the ones that appear.
  • Looking for an email(s) about a specific topic? Search the topic at the top ... and go through those.
  • If you use labels, think about which labels are worth even looking at - and go through JUST those.
  • Want to have email addresses for certain people? Search for one of their emails and forward that. Their email will show up for you.
You might just find there aren't a whole lot of emails you really need to keep. 

Good luck! Making changes is always hard - even when it's a really good change. 

Also, do NOT wait! Some districts are very strict about shutting off accounts. And once you are locked out, you could be locked out forever. 

FINAL tip: in the future, create in your personal account and share it to your school account. Then make a copy to use at school. Making it in your personal account will prevent the above 'song and dance' in the future.

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Sunday, July 9, 2023

New Adventures + old files You Can Do

How's your summer going? It's still the early part of July, and I am fully enjoying the slower pace, the sunshine, and the over all relaxed atmosphere in my house. I'm writing this in one of my most favorite spots at my house ... the front porch.

One of the pieces of my job at the end of the year is to help those who are retiring or leaving our district decide what to do with items in their Google Drive. I know, based on the conversations in the Google Trainer group, many districts struggle with this. There really isn't any one perfect method. I'm not the biggest fan of Takeout or Transfer - too often you are taking a bunch of "crap" that you will never look at or use again.

Instead, I always recommend making 2 folders - "Keepers" and "I don't need". (Some of you may need a 3rd folder "Transfer ownership".) Create these, then go through your Drive and make FAST decisions. Don't open everything, don't stress about it, just decide. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you go through your Drive:
  • did I use this file/folder THIS school year?
  • will it help me in my future position?
  • should I digitally "give" this to someone who is staying here?
You could also use the "Last modified" date to help you decide if you are unsure. If it wasn't modified in the pas 2 years or so, I'd say you most likely won't miss it. You might be surprised at what you REALLY end up taking with you.

Once you've done this clean up, don't worry about the "I don't need" folder. Just leave it alone. For the "Keepers", it gets a little tricky. You CAN share it with a personal or other school domain account, but that doesn't transfer ownership. You CAN make copies in your personal account ... but this takes a TON of time.

  • right click on your "Keepers" folder & select download
  • note where it downloads - it'll become a "zip" file
  • click ONCE on the zip file - THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT ... ONCE. ONLY ONCE.
  • you should now see a file folder named "Keepers". DO NOT OPEN IT.
  • Open the Google account you want to move it to
    • MAKE sure you have the setting turned on to "Convert uploads to Google Docs editor format" 
  • drag & drop the "Keepers" folder in

You have just saved what YOU choose to take with you to your new adventure! It might even be smart to create a brand new Google account to keep your brain straight, or depending on how much you decide to keep, you might need it for storage purposes. 

Transferring ownership is a wonderful ability within Google Drive. If you are good with it and you don't have 1,000 files, rather than sharing or making others to make copies of files you own, you can transfer ownership. Yes, it must be done to each individual file - ugh - but it IS easy. OR ... share the folder with those who need/want these files and they can make their copies for themselves. One final option - if you have the ability, you could create a shared drive and drop files in there, adding on those who need/want them, and they can pull the files out and become the owners. This all depends on the sheer number and the comfort level of you and those you are sharing with.

ONE MORE THOUGHT ... have you thought about your email??? Let's tackle that next week!

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Sunday, June 11, 2023

A Scheduled Email You Can Do

I was surprised by an email last week. It was an email I'd scheduled to myself and I'd forgotten about it. It was a happy surprise - so I thought I'd put the thought out there for you. I was inspired last year by James Clear to do this and it's super simple. He suggested composing an email to yourself and schedule it for one year out answering this question:

"How, specifically, do you want your life to be better at this time next year?"

I challenge you to do this. I have already done this and scheduled it to arrive June 1, 2024. Don't limit yourself to improvements at school. I included things for my family, my health, and professionally. It doesn't have to be lengthy - include what makes sense to you.

Do you know how to schedule an email? It's really easy and there are many uses for it. I do it all the time to ensure information gets to people when it needs to be there. It's a huge help when I'm working on a project and I schedule email reminders (even to myself at times) because I know how crazy inboxes can be and I want to be respectful of that.

If you want to learn how, check out my blog "5 Intermediate Gmail Tips You Can Do". The "how to" is on Slide 4. 

Do you have another use for scheduling an email? I'd love to know! Reach out on any of the social medias or send me an email. 

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Sunday, May 21, 2023

End of Year Tech You Can Do: Tip #1 Reflect

My final end of year tip could possibly be THE most important. It's one I take very seriously, but I didn't always. I'm tired. You're tired. We are all tired. BUT ... take time to reflect before you go full on summer mode. 


This year is freshest in your mind right now. All the ups and downs, the back and forth, the good and the bad. You'll never have a better view of this school year than now. It's also a great way to wrap up and end the school year. (And over your years in education, what a nice collection of reflections you'll have.)

Here are some of my guiding questions:
  • What were the 3 "best" things this year? 
  • What were the 3 hardest things this year?
  • What are 2 things that you do NOT want to change next year?
  • What are 2 things you feel you MUST change or do differently next year?
  • What was your happiest moment/activity/event?
  • What was your saddest moment/activity/event?
  • Who helped you make it through this year? Reach out to them and thank them.
The numbers on the above questions aren't magical. You can change them to best suit you. If you want to simply narrate your year, that's a great idea, too! 

When I was young teacher, I didn't take time to reflect. I really wish I had. Can you imagine the collection of year end reflections I'd have right now as I am wrapping up my 22nd year in education? I also reflect on my "to do lists", routines I did or want to change, and how I keep track of what needs to be done.

The best part about reflecting is that it can't be done wrong. But it IS an important part of wrapping up a school year, so please take the time to do your own reflecting.

Now ... on to enjoy summer!

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Sunday, May 14, 2023

End of Year Tech You Can Do: Tip #2 Clean up your LMS/Google Drive

This week’s tip is very important. I know we are all exhausted - you might you are too exhausted to tackle this. But I promise you won’t regret it. Depending on your LMS and how your district is set up, you might think you are in good shape, but there are a few key steps you really need to make sure happen.

Step 1: Return ALL ungraded work. Most LMS’ have a handy spot to see what work this applies to. In Google Classroom, go to your “To Review” list. In Schoology, on your main page, there is an area in the upper right corner that shows you what work needs action. Ideally this is a step you do on a regular basis throughout the year, so it shouldn’t be a lengthy task.

Step 2: Archive/preserve your current content. This depends on your LMS. 

With Schoology, your district might have it set to archive your courses automatically when the grading period is over. They might not. If they don’t, make sure you know how to - the last thing you want is to see all of this year’s courses when you start off next year. You might also want/need to do this with any course or group that you have custom created during the year. While you can access your archived courses fairly easily, we still recommend out teachers save their courses - if they want to - to their resources.

With Google Classroom, you will need to archive your current courses to clean up your Classroom homepage. Your district might be syncing your courses for you, which will take care of this step - minus any manually created classes you created. Teachers might overlook this step, but this one is SUPER important for your students, too! Any class their teacher has not archived will still be there for them next year … and that makes it tougher for them as they are still mastering the use of digital classrooms. You can re-use content from these classes even when they are archived. It will also keep YOUR homepage clear of clutter.  If you are looking for a more detailed explanation, please check out my End of Year Google Classroom You Can Do.

Step 3: Clean up Google Drive. Using an LMS like Schoology or Google Classroom is beneficial when it comes to your Google Drive. Both of these systems take care of the organization with work and assignments. This will leave you time to focus on cleaning up/organizing the random non-LMS related files we all accumulate over the course of a school year. I highly recommend setting a timer for this step.

Steps to take if you are leaving your current district: 

Now, if you are NOT returning to your current district, please still complete the above steps AND keep the following in mind:

Decide what you want to and are allowed to take with you. This is not as clean as you might think. Check with your Tech Director or IT person to find out the steps to take if you want to take files with you. 

I recommend to our teachers to make a folder in their Google Drive and move any/all files in there they want. Then download THAT folder. It will create a zip file. Click the file ONCE and then move the blue folder onto a flash drive (or if you are able to, upload it right into your personal Google Drive). This will preserve the files as Google files. Don’t open the blue folder! Also, do yourself a favor ... don’t take everything! You don’t need it. It might feel better to take everything, but really, you are just taking a lot of unnecessary items that you aren’t using now and won’t use in the future. 

In Classroom, all work basically funnels through Drive, so as long as you take the files you want, you should be good.

In Schoology, there are a few different thoughts:

  • if you are moving TO another Schoology school, this video by JillR "Schoology - Export Course Content/Importing into LMS (Schoology)" might be helpful

  • if you are moving to another school that does NOT use Schoology, I did find a page Export AND Download your courses from Schoology from the Forest Grove School. It provides specific steps as well as what can and cannot be downloaded.

  • I've never had much confidence in exporting for future use with Schoology - but that doesn't mean it isn't possible! If you create most of your items in your Drive and then use the Google Drive assignments, you should be good to go!

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Sunday, May 7, 2023

End of Year Tech You Can Do: Tip #3 Clean up your email

Email can quickly get out of control. I try to "tame" it on a regular basis, but I take special steps at the end of a school year. Today, I'm sharing them with you. You can use these at any time of the year and the more you keep your email in check, the less you feel like it's a battle. Let's jump in!

Make next year's folder:
I do this for NEXT school year at the end of the year. For example, I've already created a 2023-2024 folder. That way, when items start coming my way, I can go ahead and tuck them away.

Unsubscribe to unwanted/unread listservs:
Do people call them "listservs" anymore? I get a TON of these kinds of emails - thank you conferences - and it really helps me keep my inbox clean when I click the unsubscribe buttons. It takes about 6 seconds ... which I remind myself, that would be what it would take for me to delete that company's email for 2 months. So really, I'm saving myself time in the long run.

Create a "summer vacation" autoreply:
This might something worthwhile, but not necessary ... depending on your personal feelings. Crafting a "I'm on summer vacation until XXX. I'm resting, re-energizing, and recalibrating so I can start off next year strong."  ... then possibly add a message about the frequency with which you check your email over the summer. It could be that you won't be checking regularly or however you are comfortable sharing. This is TRULY OPTIONAL!

Adjust your email:
I find teachers sometimes use their school account for personal email items. I do NOT recommend this. I strongly encourage teachers to switch these to their personal accounts. This might only cause issues down the road. And if you don't have a personal email, make one and then make the switch. Gmail is a completely free option and there are plenty of other ones out there.

Go through your spam/junk folder:
I know this might seem backwards - why would you go through this folder? I've found that there are emails that I've missed because they've been tagged junk. The longer they sit there, the more I will miss them and some emails I've found in there are ones I need to respond to. (This is probably good practice every month or so.)

I don't do this often enough. I hold onto emails thinking I'll get back to them. And I don't. I go ahead and delete them at the end of the year. Seriously .... the delete button is sometimes your best friend!

P.S. I do not subscribe to the "zero inbox" rule and I DO use my inbox as a "to do" list. While these aren't bad ideas, zero inbox stresses me out beyond belief and I'll keep emails until I tackle that project/need/request and then I take care of it.

Bottom line - how you do email is a very personal thing. I hope my suggestions above help you feel more confident in control over your email.

If you are a Gmail user, I have written several blogs focusing on tips & tricks and helping you clean up your email. You find them under my Gmail label.

What is your top tip when dealing with email? I'd love to know! You can post it in the comments or email it directly to me - .

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Sunday, April 30, 2023

End of Year Tech You Can Do: Tip #4 Plan Your Summer Activities

I love lists.
I love being able to check things off said lists.
I love how organized I feel.
I love seeing what I've accomplished.
I love having a plan in place.

This week, I suggest you carve out a little time and create yourself a summer to do list. 

It doesn't need to be fancy ... but you can make it fancy. It doesn't need to any length ... you can always add to it or subtract from it. There is NO requirement. It's summer. I like to get a lot of home projects done during the summer. 

I started to create mine this weekend. I used the page in my notebook where I am planning each month's big picture to do's. It's the page right between June & July. So far, I've only added a few things - family pictures, family vacation, my oldest daughters - gasp! - senior pictures, and a couple of professional activities that are already scheduled. 

This week, I am going to add three categories that I know will have things I want to complete: home DIY projects, professional learning, and items to get done for school. My list will not be complete until summer is over; I'll add and subtract from it.

My goal is to check everything off, but plans change and somethings things aren't meant to get done. Ultimately, I do the things I CHOOSE to do - summer is my time. I WANT to do the things I put on my list. And believe me ... I get in plenty of rest and relaxation and sunshine, too!

For my summer professional learning, I'm planning to do a variety of activities: 
  • A couple of books I want to read
  • A certification or two I want to work towards
  • Podcasts to catch up on
  • Templates and activities to create and share on my blogs
If you are interested in starting to plan your list, be sure to check out the Professional Learning page here on my blog. I have been collecting free & low-cost ways for teachers to continue learning for quite some time. Many are in the "on-demand" style so you pick and choose and do them in your own time. I've begun adding some books that I have found valuable as an educator - these can be found by choosing "Book" in the secondary focus filter on the table. I plan to add podcasts, too.

What's on your agenda? Have you started thinking about it? I'd love to know what you are planning - whether it's school related or not.

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Sunday, April 23, 2023

End of Year Tech You Can Do: Tip #5 Clean Up Your Bookmarks

Over the next 5 weeks, I'm going to share a suggestion for you to wrap up the school year up. Each week one tip will ask you to focus on one major aspect of your "life" as far as teaching goes. Breaking it down like this will allow you to move into summer with a cleaned up digital life and be ready to start next year on better footing. (I also hope it will help you develop good habits moving forward so the clean up at the end of each year gets easier!)

Tip #5 is to go through your digital bookmarks. 
Let's do one of 3 things:
  • delete ➔ 
    • these are ones you don't even know why you have them OR
    • they were a one-time bookmark & no longer need them

  • organize 
    • put in an order for easy location OR
    • create/add to bookmark folders for groups of bookmarks

  • leave alone 
    • these bookmarks are perfect right where they are
You might be wondering why I suggest cleaning up your bookmarks ... I frequently see teachers struggling to find the sites they have bookmarked. We don't have a lot of "time", so bookmarks can be deceiving if you don't have them organized. They can easily become like your junk drawer. Lots of things go in there - good things, important things - but you can never find anything. 

If you want a more detailed explanation of how to make folders and other bookmark tips, check out this blog, Organize Chrome (in 5 Steps) You Can Do.

Take the time once a year to clean them up and you'll start next year off a little more organized ... and maybe even with the plan to keep it that way. My ultimate goal is that I don't have any bookmarks trailing off my bookmarks bar. (I DO have some folders, but they are necessary to keep groups of bookmarks together.)

Don't spend a ton of time on this. Set a timer for 15 minutes. If you are still working through your bookmarks, take a break and come back. 

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Saturday, February 25, 2023

Docs Scavenger Hunt You Can Do

I have been spending some time in 3rd grade classes lately and recently, I had the pleasure of showing them a little more about Google Docs. Docs is where most adults start when using Google tools, but it's the 2nd tool that students use (behind Google Slides). And at 3rd grade, our students already have a bit of background, so I used a "scavenger hunt" rather than a blank Google Doc.

The couple of weeks leading up to this tech lesson, we had dug into Google Slides, so I started this lesson off with "hands off" and just looking at your screen, compare Slides to Docs. [I HIGHLY recommend doing a visual comparison before jumping in ... you can quickly gauge how much each group knows/doesn't know so you can more easily pace your activities.] It's always amazing to me what stands out and what doesn't stand out. Some students notice very small things (one commented on not having the paint bucket in Docs) and others find much bigger things (the color of the "Share" button).

Moving into the actual scavenger hunt, I let the students know that I did not originally create it, but I DID modify it to better fit them. [Thank you, Catlin Tucker!] I've used this before with students and it works really well! This year, I broke up the questions a bit more to fit the amount of time I get to spend with them - my goal is one page per visit. 

I'm going to share the link to "Google Docs Scavenger Hunt for 3rd grade" here, but the link is going to take you to my co-written blog, Templates for Teachers. Keeping all of the student activities together makes a lot of sense. Now, I call it "for 3rd grade" because that is the group of students I use it with, but you are more than welcome to change it or take it off completely. Please also feel free to modify to add/subtract the "hunt". 

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Sunday, January 15, 2023

Google icon names You Can Do

How many times have you heard someone stress the importance of your words? I think about this often whether I am working with a group of students, teachers, or with individuals. 

I think about this when I refer to tools or files or actions and most definitely icons. Working with our youngest learners often forces me to describe icons or logos or "things" in order to get students to the correct spot. (And teachers find such humor in the names!) If you spend any time in a classroom - of any age - you quickly find you simply HAVE to be able to direct students to where you want them with your words.

After one of my recent classroom visits, I really thought about how I use words to describe. Probably the best way I can share this is with a video. I use these references with adults and kindergarteners ... and I honestly couldn't tell you who I get more giggles from, the adults or the students!

Additionally, I do my best to NOT be the "driver" in the lesson. For example, if a teacher asks for help cleaning up their drive, or how to clear their cache & cookies, I will walk them through it - but I do NOT touch their device. When I'm in classrooms working with students, I do my absolute BEST to NOT touch any of their devices ... I want THEM to do the clicking and moving. I often catch students (& teachers!) "helping" others by doing it FOR them. When that happens, I remind them to "Cheer them on! Point to the screen ... use your words."

After all, the person/people doing the "driving" is the person doing the learning. 

Now, go find those shark tooth's and pancakes and snowmen ... and listen for the giggles!

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