Honestly, where do I begin?
First of all, we are a Google Apps district; therefore, our email, calendar, drive, Google+, etc. all work seamlessly together to create a rich Internet experience customized for the individual user. With Chrome, this experience gets even better. Because users log into Chrome with email addresses, all bookmarks, themes, settings, and apps travel with users no matter what computer they use to sign into Chrome. Additionally, Chrome allows multiple users, so individuals who use the same computer have their own personalized versions of Chrome. Keep in mind that all of these functions are accessible to you right now through the Chrome browser on your laptop or home computer.
Secondly, Google Chrome offers web-based apps through the Chrome Web Store.
Third, Google Chrome offers web extensions that personalize Google Chrome with extra features and functionality.
Here are a couple of my favorite apps and extensions. Please add any of your favorites in the comments section!
My goal for my students and my own children is to help them grow into self-directed and self-motivated, life-long learners. I often ask myself the question, "Would my students or my children know what to do if I or a teacher wasn't there to show them?" I want the answer to that question to be a resounding "YES!"
In order to achieve that goal, I think we need to deliberately design our curriculum and our "instruction" in ways that provide students with opportunities to learn and practice these skills. That not only requires a shift in thinking for our students, but also for us as educators.
I ran across an article by Gerry Sexton that really made me think about the qualities of self-directed learners and what I can do as an educator and coach to help students and teachers address these qualities. He identifies six characteristics, or "invisible assets" that define people who successfully take responsibility for their own learning:
1. Self-directed learners work with an underlying sense of purpose.
What can we do to grow students into self-directed learners?
We can lead students to discover within themselves these assets by asking them questions related to each of Sexton's characteristics prior to learning:
We can give voice and choice in learning.
Do all students have to always student the same topic in the same way and present information in the same way? This is the easiest way to differentiate for students' interests and skills. Allow students to bring ideas to the classroom instead of being directed from above.
We can change the way we instruct to give students authentic reading and writing opportunities...writing blogs for real audiences, finding and reading articles related to current trends.
Allow students to use technologies they will use in "real-life." Social media, web 2.0 tools, and smart phones are used outside of our school buildings every day. Why not allow students to see that they are great tools for learning?
These are just a few ideas of many. Every step we take to provide opportunities for our kids to become self-directed, aka "life-long learners" is a step in the right direction, no matter how big or how small.
Yes, you've heard all the lingo...the tweets, retweets, tweetdecks, hashtags, follows, followers, bit.lys, tinyurls, Twitter twits, etc. Does all of this twerminology have you befuddled? Are you a Twitter-lover or a Twitter-hater?
Here is a VERY brief overview of some Twitter jargon, and then I'll move on to the good stuff, so if you are already a tweeter, please don't stop here. Here's my little glossary of twerms:
I have listed a few ways you can take advantage of Twitter as a professional and even as a classroom tool. You might want to have one Twitter account for student/class related information and another for professional networking:
Use Twitter for professional networking to:
Use Twitter as a classroom tool to:
I used to think of Twitter as "another thing to do," but within the last year, I have found that it saves me time versus wasting it. I find important trends in education listed out for me with very little searching, and quite frequently I am directed to a new idea or opinion I hadn't considered. Like anything though, it's all in how it is managed. With any social network, it's important to be careful of who you follow and to regulate your time. If you find that someone you follow is posting garbage that takes your attention and time away from more important posts, don't be afraid to "unfollow" that person.
Please use the comment section below to expand your professional learning network! Let the BPS 101 community know how you are currently using Twitter or how you plan to in the future! Oh, and if you like this post...feel free to tweet it out to your followers by clicking on the Twitter button below. Happy tweeting!
Sometimes, the most frightening situations greet us every day, not just once a year as Halloween approaches! I have heard ghoulish rumors of teachers' rising blood pressure, of chaos, of disorganization. I am here to offer a bit of relief. Your Gmail inbox does not need to be a daily source of anxiety and frustration!
Now, don't stop reading because you just don't know where to begin! I have three suggestions for improving your quality of life and diminishing the stress caused by opening your Gmail account.
After opening an email, there are really only four options:
My first suggestions is CREATE LABELS. The first two labels you should create are "01.Follow-Up" and "02.Hold"
You might wonder why I have added numbers in front of the written labels; This is to ensure their place at the very top of your Label list in the left-hand column of your email window. You may decide to create other labels for saving emails. For example, you might have "Paychecks," "Technology," or "PLCs." These labels will serve several purposes. If you don't have time to respond right away, you might label an email as "01.Follow-Up." If you are waiting for another party to take action or respond, place the email in "02.Hold." If you would like to save an email for future reference, label it with the name of the corresponding subject folder. Delete any email you no longer want to see right away, so it does not clutter your Inbox. Every email requires one of the four previously-mentioned actions. After a while, choosing one of the four options listed above should become automatic. With a little practice, you might even have times when your Inbox is empty!
To create a label:
Reading email takes time, and we know that is at a premium, so try to resist the temptation to make your "Follow-Up" label a to do list. Opening each email to remember what you have to do will require you to spend more time than necessary. Instead, create a separate to do list not associated with your email.
My second suggestion is to use the MULTIPLE INBOX LAB. This will create multiple inboxes on your main Gmail window. You might want to have frames specifically for your "Follow-Up" mail and your "On-Hold" mail. Creating multiple inboxes will save you the time of finding your Label in the left-hand column and opening it. With multiple inboxes, important messages will be right there for your viewing pleasure! Here's how to do it:
Whew! We've made it this far. I have one last suggestion before I put you on total brain overload. My third method for organizing your Gmail is to use FILTERS. Filters are easily set-up from the "Settings" menu, and can save you time by reorganizing your Inbox for you! For example, here in the tech department, we get numerous reports when network glitches occur. Since we have people for that (wonderful, amazing people who have way more expertise in that area than some of us who get the same alerts), I created a filter to have those messages sent directly to my trash. You might use filters to place VIP emails....you know, the ones from the principal or your mother, in a certain Labeled Folder. You might subscribe to a blog, such as this one, and have handy tech tips sent directly to your Technology Labeled Folder. Anyway, you get this point. Here's how it's done:
In writing this post, I became a success story. My original Inbox had 589 emails. In one evening I was able to take action on every piece of mail I had in my Inbox AND complete this blog post by my Halloween deadline...the bewitching hour.
As the saying goes, we need to "Take time to make time." Start giving yourself the "treat" of time, and use any or all of the three suggestions (labels, multiple inboxes, and filters) for making your Gmail Inbox a little LESS scary.
INFORMATIVE............INTERESTING..............EASY TO NAVIGATE
These are all qualities of an effective website!
One way to address all three of these qualities is to include players for audio and video directly in your site instead of just including links to these files. Viewers can then play the audio or video without having to leave your page to access an external player. This improves navigation, and it allows you to add pertinent information in interesting formats!
Google Sites permits you to embed these players with a few, simple steps. I must warn you...the directions I have included here look much more difficult than they are in reality. Don't give up before trying it!
For Google Sites, audio files in .mp3 format and video files in .mov format work best. Your files can be easily converted into these formats using Zamzar at http://www.zamzar.com/. This is a free site, and there is no need to download any software or sign up to use their services. I have included directions for use of the site, but the site itself is very self-explanatory: (This resource is also available on "Help Resources" page under "Tech Resources")
Direct Link: How to Use Zamzar to Convert Files to Other Formats
Once your files have been converted to these formats, you can embed them directly on pages within your site.
Please use the following document to help you embed video or audio in your site. (You may also be interested in how to download a YouTube video for use in your website. To access directions for how to download a YouTube video, using Zamzar, click here.)
The following resource is also available on the "Google Sites" page under "Tech Resources."
Direct Link: How to Embed Audio and Video Players in a Google Site
What are some ways you use or plan to use video or audio to enhance your site?
Please share in the comment section below!
Reposted from Edudemic
by Guest Writer
Technology and education are pretty intertwined these days and nearly every teacher has a few favorite tech tools that make doing his or her job and connecting with students a little bit easier and more fun for all involved.
Yet as with anything related to technology, new tools are hitting the market constantly and older ones rising to prominence, broadening their scope, or just adding new features that make them better matches for education, which can make it hard to keep up with the newest and most useful tools even for the most tech-savvy teachers.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the tech tools, including some that are becoming increasingly popular and widely used, that should be part of any teacher’s tech tool arsenal this year, whether for their own personal use or as educational aids in the classroom.
Social Learning: These tools use the power of social media to help students learn and teachers connect.
Learning: These educational tools can help you to make lessons fun, interesting, and more effective.
Lesson Planning and ToolsUse: These tech tools pull together great lessons and design amazing and memorable student projects.
Useful Tools: These tools can help you to stay connected, organized, and increase the ease of building multimedia lessons and learning tools.
Last week, I attended a wonderful "how-to" presentation given by Lisa Palese about a new translation service offered in our district this year. Here are some questions and answers about the Telephonic Interpreter Service
Who can use this service?
When is it accessible?
How do I access it?
Why are we using this service?
Is there training available?
How do you communicate? If you are like the growing majority, you rely heavily upon text-messaging.
Just the other day I was reminded of a service I used last year with students in my classroom and their parents for "just-in-time" communication. Remind 101 (https://www.remind101.com/) is a free communication tool to safely pass along important messages and information to students and parents. Honestly, the best part of using this service was the feedback I received from parents and students. It takes a lot of time as a parent to look at multiple websites to get information about homework or upcoming tests and quizzes. With this service, the information goes directly to them!!! My primary uses for Remind101 were sending reminders for tests, quizzes, projects and major assignment due dates. I would also use it for field trip supply reminders or special events that were occurring. I just recently heard of one teacher using it to motivate at-risk students to come to school by sending encouraging messages to them the night before or in the morning. Parents and students truly appreciate the reminders and the ease of use.
This tool is quick, easy and safe for communication between teacher and student or teacher and parent. I say safe because you, as the teacher, never see record of a subscriber's phone number or email address. The opposite is also true. Subscribers are purely receivers of information; they cannot respond to a message sent to them.
It is easy to get parents and students involved! First, a teacher adds his/her class, which generates a unique code. The teacher then shares that code with students or parents. This can be done by emailing a generated instructional PDF or by having students bring phones to class and projecting the directions for students to sign up. At that point, any student or parent who sends a text message with the code will be "subscribed" to the teacher's class. Beware--set guidelines for how students and parents should enter their names. This will help you by providing consistent information about who is subscribed and it MAY help manage "silliness" when students input names. Any time a teacher sends a message from remind101, all the students or parents subscribed will receive it. Here is an example of the PDF directions form:
As a teacher, you can add up to 10 classes. If you want more, contact the company at remind101.uservoice.com.
Remind101 even offers an iPhone app. Here's the link!
Start using Remind101 in your classroom today and see what an impact
it has on student preparedness!
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