Category Archives: Uncategorized

3 Ways for Educators to use G-Suite Team Drives

At the end of September, Google released Drive for Teams. This is a new way to organize collaborative tools and folders within the existing Google Drive ethos.

Content ownership and sharing are managed at the team level, and new roles give more granular control over team content. Team Drives help streamline teamwork from end-to-end, from onboarding a new team member (add her to the team and she instantly has access to all of the work in one place) to offboarding a departing team member (remove him from the team and all of his work stays right in place), and everything in-between. –Google Cloud Blog

I’ve had the opportunity to play with Team Drives. It certainly has the potential to make my life as an educator a little easier. Here are three ways that educators can use Teams in their school:

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Courtesy of Google Cloud Blog

Collaborate across Division/Grade Level/Department

Educators do not work solo. Instead, we often work together and collaborate on many different levels. Using Google Teams, you can create digital, collaborative work spaces. If you are working with others at the division, grade, or department level, Drive for Teams is a great place to engage with your peers. You can share files, a Google Doc, and more. Additionally, no more hunting for that file or document that someone shared with you two months ago. It’s all in the same place!

Collaborate on Classes

If you team teach a class or want to collaborate with others who teach the same subject, Team Drive is a great place to do that! You can share educational resources (work sheets, lessons, projects, etc) and engage with your colleagues remotely. This is a great way to make collaboration easier.

Collaborate on Administrative Projects

Many educators have administrative duties. If you are working on a project with others, a Team Drive is a great place to organize and share resources. You can set up a team drive for each project, adding only those who are working on the project. You can share large files, images, Google Docs, and more.

Ultimately, I think that the new Teams features will add higher levels of usability and organization to the existing set of G-Suite Tools.

Why You Should Become a Google Certified Educator (That have Nothing to do with Badging).

If you look to the right of my page, you’ll notice that I have a handful of badges. One of them, is the Google Certified Educator badge. Collecting badges can be a nice way to show off (and teachers really need to toot their own horn once in a while). However, there are a lot of substantive reasons to take the plunge and become a Google Certified Educator that don’t involve the flashy badge.

Try Out New Google Tools

While you may be familiar with the whole set of G-Suite Tools, most of us spend the majority of our time on one or two (hint, hint – gmail and Google Docs). By becoming a Google Certified educator, you’re forced to learn more about the tools you may neglect. For example, when I went through my re-certification, I spent a lot more time learning about all of the cool things you could do with Google Sites! I was forced to spend more time in platforms I normally don’t use.

Learn new Tricks with your Favorite Tools

You may spend all day every day in Google Docs, but how deep do you really go? If you’ve been looking for an excuse to learn more automated tricks, studying for your Google Certified Educator exam can help you to delve more deeply into the tools that you use on a regular basis. Learn how to write code in Google Sheets, find add-ons for Google Docs, or create a self-graded quiz in Google Forms. No matter how well you know a tool, you can always learn more.

Get New Ideas for Using Tools in the Classroom

I was not a big fan of the previous iteration of Google Certified Educator exams. I felt that they focused on minutiae and rote memorization. Google really stepped it up on this new exam. Now, it’s interactive and requires real-world application. In fact, one or two of the questions gave me ideas for my own classroom. That’s probably what I like best about the new exam, you learn something while taking it.

Get Verification of Your Skills

You know your a Google guru, maybe your boss knows it as well. Now, you have proof! Nothing better than proving your abilities with something concrete! Okay, maybe that is a little bit of badging…

Using Social Media in Natural Disaster

I just finished preparing my home (as best as I can) for Hurricane Matthew. Now, I hunker down, watch, and hope that it gives us a wide pass. Social Media now plays an important role in our lifestyles and that includes emergencies. Here are a few ways to employ it:

Keep People Updated

Hurricane_Frances_2004.jpgUse Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn) to share status and safety with friends and family. Many of us have a lot of friends and families all over the country (or world). It can be a challenge to field messages from them when preparing for, during, or cleaning up after an emergency. A Facebook post (or using Facebook’s Safety Check) can let everyone know that you are okay, any change of location if you evacuated or had to seek alternative housing, and requests for help.

Stay Updated

Federal, State, and Local Governments, as well as Emergency Agencies, will update their Social Media accounts regularly. Be sure to follow (or at least check) the Twitter accounts of your local Government, your City’s Emergency Management, Government Officials, School Districts, and more. A few National Organizations you may want to watch specifically: FEMA, the Red Cross, and NOAA.

Communicate

Landlines are still your first line of defense in an emergency (cell towers will come down first and landlines aren’t reliant on power). However, even with a landline you may get busy circuits. If you have a cell signal or can find an internet connection, Social Media communicators are your friend! Using tools like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, or other Direct Message tools can help you to keep in touch.

I hope that you find these tools useful for your next emergency! Stay safe out there!

5 Tips to Get the Most out of ISTE

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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This summer, thousands of teachers will be descending on Denver to attend the 2016 ISTE Conference. ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, is the largest, and sometimes most intimidating, tech conference due to its sheer size and the volume of attendees and vendors. I have been a regular attender of ISTE for many years and have learned a few things about how to get the most out of the conference. Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of ISTE:

Download the ISTE App

ISTE has a robust conference app that is free for users. There is a lot to navigate at ISTE: calendar, locations, vendors, and more. The app will have the most up-to-date information at all times – speakers drop out of the conference at the last minute, a room change may happen, or you may want to track down a vendor whose tool you saw featured in a talk. The app will tell you everything you want to know. You can look up workshops and presentations by speaker and topic. It is the best tool for sorting througheverything about the conference.

Single Out 2-3 Topics to Explore

One thing that I have learned is that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of poster sessions, workshops, and presentations at ISTE. To prevent information overload, go to ISTE with a goal in mind. What are the topics or ideas that you want to learn about most? Do you want to bring Digital Storytelling in your classroom? Build a robust Digital Citizenship program? Want to up your Google Apps game? Is your district or school rolling out a new tech initiative next year and you need more information? ISTE is a smorgasbord of teaching and learning, so focus on two or three topics that you want to explore. This is not to say you should avoid attending an off-topic session that grabs your attention, but having a clear focus at ISTE will help you to get the most out of your conference learning experience.

Vote with your Feet

Not every session will fit your expectations. If that is the case, you should feel free to “vote with your feet.” In other words, if you aren’t getting what you want out of a session, then you should leave and go to another one. Time is your most valuable commodity at ISTE, so use it wisely and explore as much as possible. Move around, enter a session late or leave early, and learn all that you can!

Go to Networking Events

ISTE has a lot of opportunities to network with like minded educators and leaders. If you are a member of an ISTE Professional Learning Network, be sure to check their bulletin board to see if they are hosting an event. By the way, PLN’s are open-enrollment, so you should feel to join one last minute and engage with your peers at the conference! In addition to PLN’s, many vendors host happy hours or networking activities to help educators come together and engage as professionals.

Take Breaks

It’s easy to get lost in your ISTE conference and not realize how much physical and mental energy that you’re exerting. For example, one day last year I clocked over 27,000 steps (almost 14 miles) on my Fitbit! Don’t let conference fatigue get you down. Take regular breaks, both physical and mental. If you’re staying in a conference hotel nearby, take a break in the middle of the day to reflect on your morning. You can write a blog post or a journal entry if it helps you to process; enjoy a long lunch (perhaps with a new networking friend); or just take a walk or a jog in the city. Taking regular breaks will help you to stay on your game throughout the conference.

ISTE is the mother of all tech conferences, but you can easily tackle it if you keep these tips in mind. Instead of coming home a little lost and exhausted, you’ll return to your school excited, brimming with new ideas, and ready to tackle the near year!

Explore Online Content with InstaGrok

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

One of the most challenging things to tackle in education today is the glut of information that is available to students right in their pocket! With a few swipes, students can come up with thousands of resources; however, evaluating all of those sources serves as a challenge for students. Enter, instaGrok. InstaGrok is a search engine that brings together information in the form of an interactive mind-map, including text, videos, and more. It is available for free online, iOS App, and Android App.


After entering a query, instaGrok creates an interactive mind-map on the topic including multiple sources. Each node… [read the complete article on FreeTech4Teachers].

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Tip of the Week: Google adds Templates, Voice, and Explore

Some great information here. I can’t wait to try out a few of these features!

History Tech

I’ve always been a fan of the goodness that is Google. And I like when all of a sudden my GAFE tools have extra features.

For some of you, this all may not seem like a big deal. But recent small changes by Google in their online tools have made my life just a little bit easier. For those of you in GAFE schools or whose students use Google, these changes can also impact how you both interact with content and data.

The first change is 

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50+ interactive sites for social studies

There are some real gems here!

History Tech

Karen Ogen gets the credit for creating an easy to use, visually appealing list of interactive sites aligned by content area. Larry Felazzo gets the credit for sharing Karen’s work. You get the credit for using the list with your kids.

Pretty simple.

Head over to Larry’s site to get Karen’s link and be sure check out some of Larry’s other interactive site links.

Still not enough? Try some of these:

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