Lots of Bang for Your Buck

8700093610Being an educator on Twitter is a daily learning adventure. Each day I find something new to read, try, think about, and share. It is what makes me feel connected to both my virtual and my local pln. It is also part of what motivates me to continue learning.

This week I have four great things to share. While four sounds like a small number, each of the four has hours worth of learning included. It’s a lot of bang for your buck!

The first is an article from one of my favorite thought leaders, Alan November. I have shared many thoughts from previous articles and with each one, I find myself questioning, reflecting, thinking, and rethinking. This article is no different. “Crafting a Vision for the $1,ooo Pencil” challenges us to hold a mirror up to our use of technology and ask ourselves several questions, one of which is, “are we applying new tools to do old work.”  This article is about transformation- using technology to transform teaching and learning, “What have we never done before that technology uniquely enables to enhance teaching and learning?” November offers a framework of six questions that will help educators decide if technology has brought a transformative value to instruction. As always, Alan November gives us a lot to think about.

The next article is from another favorite, the oft-mentioned Alice Keeler. This time it is a guest post on Keeler’s site from another fantastic educator, Shaelynn Farnsworth. In this post Farnsworth suggests six alternatives to traditional reading logs that you can begin using with your students right now that offer your students different ways to engage, celebrate, connect, and share what they are reading.

Speaking of reading, last week the amazing 5th grade teacher Paul Solarz tweeted this link to a video library from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. If you have ever been to the reading and writing project in person, you know how exciting this is. If you have never been to the TCRWP, then you also know how exciting this is. When I was a self-contained classroom teacher, Lucy Calkins was one of my teaching idols. I read her books, attended her summer workshops, and implemented the reading and writing workshops. I can still remember hearing her speak and asking if as adults, when we finish reading a book, look over to our partner, friend, or spouse and say, “I loved that book so much I am going to make a diorama.” This library of videos is a treasure trove of learning for anyone who implements or wants to implement the reading and writing workshops in their classroom. What you will see are 59 videos and 17 collections of Kindergarten through 8th grade reading and writing videos. These are actual teachers in actual classrooms teaching mini-lessons, doing pre-conferences, and more. There is some serious professional development in this collection! By the way, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project site is also an incredible resource for educators, students, and families. Just check out the resource and clearinghouse pages to see what I mean.

Last, in terms of collections, this next series of videos put out by Rich Kiker of Kiker Learning, gives you everything you need to get started, use effectively, and feel confident and competent about using Google Classroom. There are 21 step-by-step videos that can take you from “novice to master in no time” so you can begin, or enhance your use of this incredible- and -keeps -getting -better workflow tool from GSuites.

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Two Days in Bootcamp: No Sweat

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“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” ~Peter Drucker

Today was the second of two days of the Google Educator Certification Boot Camp led by Rich Kiker. If you have ever watched any of Lee LeFever’s in Plain English Commoncraft videos– and I recommend that you do because they are excellent explanations of what can be difficult concepts- you will absolutely think that Rich has been doing voiceovers and using a pseudonym because he sounds just like LeFever. But I digress. Rich made the two days of learning fun and informative and left many of us thinking, “Is there nothing that Google does not or cannot do or has not thought of!”

It is easy to get excited by the tools because Google has made it their business to make our workflow as simple, smooth, and as positive experience as possible.

Here is just a handful of things I learned today:

#1 Copy grades from Google Classroom to Sheets

If you are using Google Classroom and you are assigning points to student work, then you will want to choose the option to Copy All Grades to Google Sheets. Now all assignments, students, and grades are automatically added to a grade book that lives in your Classroom folder. Even better– this grade book can then be imported into tools like Power School and other online grade books that your school may use. Talk about ease of use and making life simpler for teachers, this one is amazing!

#2 Start a Google Hangout right from your calendar

Yes, that’s right. If you create a meeting appointment on your calendar, a link to a hangout is automatically created. If you invite someone outside of your organization, an invitation will be sent along with a link to join the hangout. You can open the event in your calendar and start the hangout when it’s time. Easy as pie.

#3 Senders Remorse or Undo Send an Email

Have you ever clicked send in an email and then realized there was a mistake, or worse- like Gloria in Modern Family you said things in the heat of the moment and wished you could un-send it? Well, now you can- within 30 seconds. In your mail settings you can enable undo send and choose from 10-30 seconds within which you will have that capability. Emails that you recall will automatically be moved to your drafts where you can leave it until you are ready to edit, send, or delete it.

#4 Right Click Your Way to Options

You may have used the right click/command click option in a window, document, or even a cell in Sheets, but have you right clicked on a tab in your Chrome browser? Try it.

#5 Step Onstage with the Orchestra

Have you ever dreamed of performing on stage at Carnegie Hall but you know it will never happen because you are not talented in that way? Google can put you on stage with their 360° experience. Give it a try!

For more on today’s boot camp, and to hear about some really cool tools you can check out my Storify of tweets. Trust me, there are things there you won’t want to miss.

 

photo credit: Tough Mudder Training Week 1 via photopin (license)