Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Google Forms Cheat Sheet

If you have never tried Google Forms, there are a variety of different things that you can do with it, such as creating:

  • Surveys
  • Quizzes
  • Sign-Ups
  • Documentation Logs
Here is a cheat sheet that I developed for using Google Forms: 


Click here if you would like a downloadable copy. 


Monday, March 27, 2017

7 Ways to Use Google Drawings in the Classroom

Google Drawings is quickly becoming one of my favorite tools. How do you use it? How can you incorporate it into your classroom? Here are 7 ways to use Google Drawings in the classroom:



Do you have other creative ways of using Google Drawings in the classroom? I would love to hear your ideas! Please comment below.

Friday, March 24, 2017

14 Things Siri Can Do

Siri is a powerful tool that often gets overlooked; however, it has the power to help you stay organized, increase efficiency, quickly find information, and perform tasks with very little effort. Just when you learn one trick, there are new things added each day!

Here are 14 things that you can do with Siri to increase your productivity inside and outside of the classroom:



Click here to download the PDF version of the 14 Things Siri Can Do Cheat Sheet.

If you are interested in seeing the full list of Siri commands, here is an excellent article from CNET that has even more!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tell Your Story with Sutori

How do you tell a story? Sutori is a free tool for telling your story in a unique, engaging, and interactive way.



Here is how it works:

Step 1: Create Your Title

Create a short title to get your audience engaged and interested in your Sutori.


Step 2: Use the Story Tool

Creating your story begins with using the Story Tool. You can use the tool to add, move, or delete items. Not only can you add traditional text and multimedia components, you can also add assessment tools (i.e. multiple choice and drag and drop) and a discussion forum.



Step 3: Collaboration

Groups are a great way to collaborate with others on your story. Collaboration is free and unlimited, meaning you can add as many users as you want. The only limitation with the free version of Sutori is indeed with the number of groups you can create, limited to two per user.


Step 4: Share the Love

When you are finished with your story, add a conclusion and share with the world to see. There are a variety of different ways to share your Sutori with the world.


Conclusion:

Sutori is an excellent tool for creating engaging and interactive stories that will solidify learning. Need more information on how to use Sutori? Check out Sutori's How to Create a Story guide.

Need help being inspired? It may be helpful to explore what users have created.





Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Encouragement: The Breath of Our Soul

I recently met Karen on my leadership journey to interview 50 leaders in one year. She is one of the most positive and encouraging people that I have ever met. Whether it is thanking a veteran for their service or offering a kind word to a stranger, she makes it a point to encourage others on a daily basis. In fact, she regularly distributes pre-printed cards with encouraging quotes to others on a regular basis.

I was intrigued when she handed me a business card containing the word "encourager" as her title. In a world full of negativity, her job title stood out to me like an oasis in the desert.  Her journey to encouragement began fifty years earlier, when a kind-hearted little girl offered Karen the most valuable commodity - friendship and encouragement.

What is Encouragement? 

To encourage means to notice, find value, appreciate, and care for the needs of others. Leaders must encourage others to inspire greatness because encouragement is like breathe to our soul. In our fast-paced and ultra-competitive world can forget to see the needs of other people. We can intentionally or unintentionally alienate colleagues, annihilate the competition, and dehumanize others to meet the bottom line. Is our need to get ahead distracting us from encouraging others?

One Small Action

Encouraging others may be uncomfortable, unnatural, or overwhelming; however, it can be as simple as a kind gesture or action. I recently came across a great illustration in a video of a teacher who encouraged a student to finish a race. The student, named Matt, has significant physical challenges which make running tough; however, he wanted to run a 400-meter race (or one lap around the track).  At one point in the race, Matt was overcome with fatigue and discouragement, but his teacher quickly reacted and inspired an entire school.


Conclusion

The number one job of a leader is to encourage others to reach the impossible. Great leaders and organizations inspire greatness in others. Encouragement is the currency used to achieve the impossible.

One action, one kind word, one note, one smile, or one text can breathe encouragement and inspiration into another person's life. When was the last time you encouraged another person? When was the last time that you offered a kind word, note, or email?  Take a moment to encourage another person today. You never know how powerful your words or actions will be.


NOTE:

Encouraging others is something that I need to work on. In order to challenge myself, I decided to take a page out of Karen's book and created personalized postcards from Vistaprint. I am using the cards as a tool to inspire and encourage others.








Monday, March 13, 2017

NEW! Quizlet Learn Adapts to Your Student's Needs

How do you typically prepare your students to take a quiz? Do you help them create a study plan? Does your approach customize and adapt to your student's individual needs? Quizlet launched a new tool called Quizlet Learn, which does exactly that.

How Does it Work? 

Tell Quizlet what materials you need to master and when you need to learn them by. Quizlet Learn develops an individual study plan that adapts to your needs.

The program identifies patterns and makes adjustments to increase or decrease difficulty while you are studying. Quizlet Learn provides you with up-to-date information on your progress to keep you focused and motivated. Quizlet Learn is currently available on iOS, but an Android version will be coming soon.

Conclusion:

Quizlet Learn is an excellent tool to increase student engagement and motivation. Students have the ability to set due dates and measure their progress to see how close they are to reaching their goal. Quizlet customizes review materials to provide the appropriate rigor and relevance to challenge students to learn material more effectively.

Want to learn more? Check out this brief video:





Sunday, March 12, 2017

Good?


The word good can take on many different connotations. It can provoke a sense a feeling of peace and generate positive emotions. When life is good, we feel good. The word good can rise the cynic within us. We scroll through social media posts and grow cynical by the good life our friends and family have.

The truth is that life is good, but it can be hard to see in the midst of adversity, challenge, and heartache. When our world is falling apart, it can be difficult to see anything good. Seeing the good in any situation is essential to growing as a leader. Whether you are leading students, teachers, soldiers, or a sales staff, there will be times that you have to find the good in a situation. The people who rely on you are counting on you. If you are trapped within a world of darkness, how can you lead others to the light?

Good:

A few months ago, a colleague recommended that I view the following clip by former Navy Seal, Jocko Willink. In the video, Jocko talks about his philosophy in dealing with adverse situations. Although I am not as intense as Jocko, it was a great reminder that I have to learn how to see the good in life. Cynical and negative leaders tend to have a short shelf life.




I challenge you to say the word "good" when things are falling apart. I challenge you to see the "good" when things appear bad. There is a great saying in scripture that says "what you meant for evil, God meant for good."

Where can you begin? Where can you start small?

Things didn't go your way? Good...a chance to find another way.

Struggling with others? Good...a chance to grow stronger and more meaningful relationships.

Fell on your face once again? Good....a chance to redeem yourself.

It is not easy, but the people in your life are counting on you to master this. We must master ourselves before we can master our piece of the world. What is your struggle?

How can you learn to own it, appreciate it, and see the good?


4 iPad Accessibility Features You May Not Know About

If you have an iPad, you may be aware of the many free accessibility tools designed to increase access and remove barriers. You can access the accessibility features on your iPad by going to Settings and choosing Accessibility.  

I have created the following iBook with 10 iPad Accessibility Features for Students. The book contains information about each tool, cheat sheets, and links to video tutorials. Here are four free accessibility tools you may not know about. 


1. The Zoom Feature


The Zoom Feature is helpful for magnifying the display of your iPad. This tool can be used with students with visual difficulties or as a way to enlarge content to project on your teacher iPad. Once this feature is turned on in the Accessibility menu, simply tap three fingers on your screen to activate. 



2. Magnifier

Have you ever had difficulty reading the fine print on a sign or need a little extra help seeing a particular object? The Magnifier feature on your iPad uses your camera to zoom in on objects. Not only can you adjust the brightness and contrast, you can also apply filters, such as white/blue, yellow/blue, grayscale, yellow/black, and red/black. 

Check out a brief video tutorial below: 



3. Speech

The Speech feature is a text to voice feature, which is helpful for providing assistance to struggling readers or auditory learners. Once the feature is activated, you can highlight specific text and press the speech button to hear the passage read aloud. Want to customize the speed and voice type? You can do that too! Check out a brief tutorial video below:


4. Guided Access

We all have had those students who are distracted and need a little extra support staying on task. Guided Access is a helpful accessibility tool, which restricts student access to only one App. Students cannot leave the app until the passcode is entered OR time is up.

Check out this brief tutorial below:



Conclusion:

If you would like more ideas, I have created the following iBook with 10 iPad Accessibility Features for Students. The book contains information about each tool, cheat sheets, and links to video tutorials. 


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

8 Ways the Post-It Plus App Can Be Used in the Classroom

I have grown to love the Post-It Plus iOS App because it provides numerous options for engaging students in the classroom. I would like to share eight ways it can be used in the classroom.

1. Word Practice

Just the other day, I was in a 1st-grade classroom to practice making compound words. Instead of writing words on paper, students used the App to practice putting together post-it notes to make compound words.

You may even want to consider have students practice recognizing patterns in words, such as synonyms, antonyms, and parts of speech.

2. Vocabulary Practice

Provide students with a list post-it notes containing words and definitions. Have students match the vocabulary word with the meaning. Take it a step further and have students draw an example of the vocabulary word using the editing tools on Post-It Plus.

3. Sequencing the Parts of a Story

Elementary students often need practice sequencing the events in a story. After students read a passage, have key events from the story listed on post-it notes. Have students position the events in the order they occur as a quick way to check for understanding.

4. Solve Math Problems

Write down a math problem on post-it notes, then have students address the problem using the editing tools on Post-It Plus. Recently, I worked with a group of students to practice determining whether a value was greater than or less than another. Students used the editing tools on Post-It Plus to write their answers.

5. Sequence Steps of a Math Problem

Why not write down the steps needed to solve a math problem? Have students reposition the post-it notes in the proper order. To take it a step further, give students the steps for solving a problem and an actual problem to solve.  Have students position the steps for solving the problem and then show their work for each step on each post-it note.

6. Create a Timeline

Write down the names and descriptions of historical events on post-it notes and have students develop a timeline as a visual and hands-on way to practice sequencing events.

7. Diving Deeper into Content 

Provide students with characteristics of an object, topic, or life form. For example, perhaps you are a Science teacher who has created post-it notes with the characteristics of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Students can use the Post-It Plus app to create three separate boards for each type of creature.

Students can label the board with the name of the life form and drag and drop each characteristic on each board. Students can even create their own post-it notes to list additional characteristics.

8. Collect Exit Tickets

If you are like me, then you may like to use post-it notes as a way to create "Exit Tickets" out the door. As a secondary teacher, I used to hurry to collect and read all of the post-it notes from my previous class before my next class arrived. The Post-It Plus App allows you to scan the post-it notes at the end of the class and read, write notes on, or discuss with students the next day. No more worrying if a post-it note got lost, thrown out, or fell off of the wall!