Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Inside Scoop: EdTech 2020 Virtual Conference #edtech #zoom

Did you miss the announcement yesterday about the EdTech 2020 Virtual Conference? It's not too late to find out more about this exciting, first time event for Texas State University. The virtual, graduate student organized conference offers engaging virtual sessions. The sessions are available in both synchronous (Saturday, April 25, 2020) and asynchronous (video recordings) formats.

Wait, wait, there's more! You can interact with speakers via live chat from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Central) on the day of each event.

Watch the Interview with the Organizers

Curious about the planning that went into this event? Get the inside scoop. Watch this 23 minute video available via YouTube:

Learn more about available sessions and Register

This blog post first appeared at Around the Corner.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Reel into Paper Slide Videos

Paper slides are a powerful yet simple, low-tech way to integrate video into your classroom. Just like the name implies, it involves the sliding of papers to create a movie. Students create paper slides on good old white paper. Then they slide them across while someone videos it. It is definitely an engaging way to have students demonstrate their knowledge in any subject area and any grade level. In addition, you are emphasizing important skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

Materials Needed

The great thing about paper slides is that you don’t need a lot of materials. All you need is:
  1. Blank white paper
  2. Crayons or markers
  3. A device that can record video (like a cell phone)

Classroom Ideas

While the possibilities for using paper slide videos in the classroom are endless, below are few ideas to help you get started:
  • Reading – Students break down the elements of a story, for example character, setting, conflict, plot, and theme.
  • Math – Students show each step in an equation or problem while they explain it.
  • Science – Students show different parts of a cell or stages of the water cycle.
  • Writing- Students show each stage in their writing process to show how they brainstormed, drafted, revised, edited, and published a piece.
  • Social Studies – Students create a timeline of a historical event or create political cartoons.

paper slide videoseBook

For more classroom ideas and best practices for implementation, download the Reel into Paper Slides eBook. You will even find a concept map to help with brainstorming and a grading rubric you can use to clarify expectations. Download it now!
And, if you want to see some examples created by teachers, you can check them out here.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Make Your Google Docs More Accessible

As educators, there are many things we can do to make our Google Docs more accessible to our students. We should always be thinking about including Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in all that we do. As a matter of fact, the ISTE Standards for Educators call for educators to design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability (ISTE Standard 5, Designer). Check out the best practices below to create documents that will be more readable and accessible for everyone, including your students.

Use Headings

Make it easier for others to read your document by including headings. Documents organized to include headings will help readers jump to different sections in your document. Structure and properly formatted headings are very important so that your documents can be easily understood and navigated. Besides that, no one wants to read a single long document.

Headings should be selected based on their hierarchy in the document. Usually, you start the document with a heading that describes the overall document, which would be Heading 1. Follow it with a sub-heading, which would be Heading 2, and so on. Any heading style will help those who use a screen reader to navigate through your document.

Image of how to create a heading in Google Docs.

To make an item a heading in Google Docs, follow the steps below:
  1. Select the Styles drop-down menu, located to the left of the font drop-down menu or go to Format, Paragraph Styles.
  2. Change from Normal Text to Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3, using the appropriate heading levels for your content structure.
An added benefit of using Headings is that they can be used to automatically generate a Table of Contents or bookmark items in your document.

Add Alt Text to Images

Images can play a significant role in Google Docs. The way to make them accessible is to add Alternative Text, or Alt Text, to the image. Alt text for images is vital to ensuring that users with visual impairments have access to information included in these visuals. Alternative text should provide enough information so that users who are unable to see them are still able to understand what they convey.

Image of how to add alt text to an image in Google Docs.

To add alt text to an image embedded in a Google Doc, follow the steps below:
  1. Upload or insert the image.
  2. Click and highlight the image.
  3. Right click on the image and select Alt text.
  4. In the pop-up window, enter a description of the image into the Description field.
  5. Click OK when done.
While there are no hard and fast rules for determining what alternative text should say (it depends on the image, its context, etc.), one simple trick is to imagine describing the image to someone over the phone.

Clearly Describe Hyperlinks

You can make your Google Docs even more accessible by improving how you use hyperlinks in your documents. Hyperlinks should be embedded in text that makes them clear, concise, and meaningful in context. Users visually scan pages for links to help them find the information they are looking for quickly. Those who use screen readers can pull up a list of all the links on your document at the touch of a button; therefore, the links should make as much sense as possible.

For example, a link should say “Closed Captions in Google Slides” instead of “Closed Captions in Google Slides. Click here.”

To best add a hyperlink to a Google Doc, follow the steps below:
  1. Highlight the text you want to make into a hyperlink.
  2. Right click on the text and scroll to Link.
  3. Insert the Link.
  4. Click Apply when done.

Use Color and Contrast Appropriately

Color in your documents is very important. It is critical that the appropriate contrast exist between the text in your document and the background of your document. Lightly colored text should have a darker background and darker colored text should have a light background. In addition, color alone should never be used to emphasize items on your document. Use color plus bold to highlight items. Always remember, what you see may not be what others see.

Accessibility in the Future

As we head into the future, it will be more important than ever to consider accessibility and UDL principles. This means we must rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it. Incorporating these best practices will result in more accessible and usable Google docs.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Closed Captions in Google Slides

Last month, Google rolled out automated closed captions for Google Slides. Thanks to this exciting update, now when you present with Google Slides, you can turn on automatic captions to display your words in real time at the bottom of the screen.

The Advantages of Closed Captions

"Closed captioning in Slides can help audience members … who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it can also be useful for audience members without hearing loss who are listening in noisy auditoriums or rooms with poor sound settings," G Suite Accessibility Software Engineers Laura D'Aquila and Abigail Klein wrote in a blog post about the update. "Closed captioning can also be a benefit when the presenter is speaking a non-native language or is not projecting their voice."

Closed captioning can also be a game-changer for educators in the classroom. Closed captioning can help meet different students' learning styles. It will also support your students who are second language learners. And of course, always providing access for students with disabilities is a must. Therefore, check out the steps below in order to use closed captions with your Slide presentations.

Steps for Using Closed Captions

Below are the steps for using closed captions with Google Slides:

Step 1: Set up your microphone
  • Your microphone needs to be on and working in order to use captions with Google Slides.
Step 2: Present with captions
  • Open your presentation in Google Slides. You must be using the Chrome browser on a Mac or PC.
  • To start presenting, click Present.
  • Click CC to turn on captions. You can also use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + C in Windows or Chrome OS, or the Command key + Shift + C if you're using a Mac.
  • Begin speaking. As you speak, captions will appear at the bottom of the screen. Note that captions don't include punctuation and are not stored.
  • To turn off captions, click CC.

The captions are powered by machine learning. They are heavily influenced by the speaker's accent, voice modulation, and intonation. Currently, Google Slides close captioning only supports English. However, Google hopes to expand the feature to be available in other languages soon.

Tips for Using Captions

Before you begin using closed captions, you might want to let your audience know beforehand. Google recommends asking your audience for their preference before enabling captions. Some people find them more distracting than helpful. It's also worth noting that captions and your microphone automatically turn off if there's no activity on your computer for 30 minutes.

Put simply, closed captions has many benefits for everyone. When presentations are accessible to learners of all abilities and learning styles, everybody wins. Give it try!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Five Hacks for Google Sheets

Do you create Google Sheets? In our office, many use Google Sheets for a multitude of projects. At a recent Google Educator Level 1 training, participants were unaware of my top five hacks for Google Sheets.  Let's take a look at five Google Sheets hacks you may find useful.  Depending on your needs, these can make your Sheets experience more productive.

Hack #1 -

"Have you explored" I asked session participants. Almost all shook their heads in the negative. Flippity takes data you have in your Google Sheet and then does cool stuff with it.

Note: With each Sheet, you will must go to File->Publish the sheet. This make its available on the web for viewing. When you get it setup, you will copy the website address (URL) (shown in blue in the image below) then share that with students or staff.

Here are some of the problems that the free Flippity website helps you solve as an educator:
  • Flashcards - Take content in a Google Sheet and turn it into online flashcards. You create two columns in a Sheet, putting side one (the prompt) of the flashcard in column one. In column two, you put side two content (the response). With this option, you can also generate more resources. Those include a simple list, practice, matching, and word cloud. Flippity makes it easy to send your list of data to create Bingo cards, Crossword, and even Hangman. It can generate a Memory Game, Word Search, and Print Quiz.
  • Quiz Show - Want to create your own trivia game a la a Jeopardy show? Flippity makes that easy.
  • Random Name Picker - Need a random name picker for selecting students for projects? This tool will use your class roster to make it happen.
  • Scavenger Hunt - Turn any Sheet into a scavenger hunt activity.

More creations that Flippity makes possible include Timeline maker tool. You can use its Badge Tracker, Spelling Word Manager, and Word Search tools, too. MadLibs, Mix and Match, and Certificate Quiz appear, too. Ready to get started? Go to Flippity's website and follow the instructions that go with each tool.

Hack #2 - RosterSync

This free add-on to Google Sheets makes it easy to create and update Google Classroom. With RosterSync Teacher Edition, you can sync a copy of a Google Classroom course roster. Student names and email addresses get saved to Sheets. Why is this important? It makes getting at data saved in Classrooms easier to use elsewhere. Once you have that class roster of students, you can use other add-ons (like Flippity) to do more.

Hack #3 - Save Email and Attachments

Get a lot of emails with attached files? Use this add-on to Google Sheets to create a custom filter. This add-on will save file attachments from selected incoming email as PDF files. You can create a "rule" that has two options. The options include save the email body (the contents) and file attachments. Here is what one query looks like:
label:All has:attachment
More options are available in the premium version ($29 per year). Those options include:
  • Unlimited rules for saving emails and attachments to:
    • Google Drive
    • Google Team Drive folders
  • Faster save rate (every 15 minutes), which is great if you have tons of incoming email
  • Custom file names
  • Permit or deny file attachments that have specific extensions (e.g. EXEs to avoid potential virus carriers)
  • Remove watermark in generated PDF files
The free version can get you started. Want to learn more? Watch this short video. An alternative solution is's Save Emails to Google Drive add-on. CloudHQ's version lets you save one hundred emails to Google Drive for free. They feature another add-on, Save and Backup My Emails, that will backup all emails and files.

Hack #4 - Power Tools

Feature-rich, this add-on offers rich variety of tools you can use to manage your data in a spreadsheet.  If you have three minutes, you may want to watch this video overview. Some of the tools in this must-have tool for Sheets include:
  • Change case (e.g. capital, lowercase)
  • Sum colored cells
  • Remove duplicates and compare two or more columns
  • Split, merge, compare, find data
  • Unpivot tables, unmerge cells
  • Autosum numbers in every row or column
  • Add or remove text by position
  • Transform formulas
  • Change formula reference types
  • Delete unwanted characters
  • Merge sheets
  • Randomize data
Power Tools offers a helpful toolbar that provides one-click actions (like those listed above). The Power Tools add-on is one of my top hacks for Google Sheets. I expect it will soon become yours.

Hack #5 - Bulk Email Tools

Have you collected students' parent names and emails via a Google Form? Make it easy to stay in contact with custom updates to parents. Send a clickable email (instead of paper) that parents will be able to interact with. Need to send a standard email to workshop participants? You can do this with one or both of these two bulk email tools:
My favorite uses of these tools include emailing:
  • Parents with student-specific information that is not FERPA related
  • Students (in older grades) with specific non-FERPA related information, including assignment reminders
  • Colleagues and staff about upcoming or past events that include links to more information

Five Hacks for Google Sheets

Adopt these hacks to step up your work with Google Sheets. You will be able to get more done and collaborate with others in new ways.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Five Culturally-Responsive Instructional Strategies

We all know that no single teaching approach will engage all students at once, but implementing a culturally-responsive instructional strategy will help you connect to your more diverse students with distinct backgrounds. So what does it mean to be a culturally-responsive teacher? Being culturally responsive means you can relate to people not only from your own culture, but to that of others as well. It’s more than just knowing the backgrounds of your students. It’s about using that knowledge to incorporate teaching strategies that will engage all students in your classroom, even those with different backgrounds.

Below are a few instructional strategies to help you become a more culturally-responsive teacher.

1 – Get to Know Your Students

One strategy to create a more culturally-responsive classroom is getting to know your students. The more you know about your students, the better. Icebreakers are one way to accomplish this. See Classroom Icebreakers and Even More Classroom Icebreakers for activities you can incorporate in your classroom. Other ideas include interest surveys or questionnaires about learning styles. By showing genuine interest in what matters to your students, you are building trust and creating a place where all students feel comfortable.

2 – Incorporate Real-World Learning Scenarios

Another strategy to use is incorporating real-world learning scenarios in your classroom. By creating activities that present problems that students can relate to, you’re linking to student interests and allowing them the opportunity to use their own cultural awareness to solve the problem. Take a look at Collaborative Projects in PBL to get ideas on how to create real-world problem scenarios.

3 – Use Learning Stations

All students respond differently to different types of content due to preference, learning style, and/or culture. With learning stations, you can provide a variety of materials that are differentiated for students.  Each station should use a unique method of instructing students so that students have a choice in which station they would prefer to visit. If culturally diverse students can make connections with the content, they will be more engaged.


4 – Include Games in Lessons

Another way to differentiate content and delivery is to include games in your lessons. Gamifying learning is a good way to motivate students of all cultures. Students love earning badges or trying to be the top scorer. Setting goals or specific tasks and offering rewards can inspire students and give them what they need. In addition, it gives your entire class a chance to have a little fun.

5 – Bring in Guest Speakers

Inviting diverse speakers to speak to your students and share their knowledge is another strategy for creating a culturally-responsive classroom. Students may be more engaged and motivated if they share a culture with the guest speaker. In addition, technology makes it easier than ever to bring speakers into your classroom. It is very easy to set up a Google Hangout or Mystery Skype to connect with others.

Be a Culturally-Responsive Teacher

We live in a multicultural world; therefore implementing culturally responsive teaching strategies is becoming more necessary to create a successful learning environment where all students can learn. Consistency is key to being a more culturally-responsive teacher. Try using all or some of the instructional strategies listed above to ensure that you are meeting the needs of all your students.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Five Ways to Use Google Tools as an Instructional Coach

There are many advantages to using Google tools as an instructional coach. Not only can you manage your day-to-day activities, but you can also support your teachers more effectively. Below is a list of tasks and Google tools that will help you as an instructional coach:

1 - Set Up Appointments with Google Calendar

As an instructional coach, there will be times when you need to set up times to either meet with teachers or conduct an observation. An easy way to do this is to have teachers reserve appointments directly through your Google Calendar.

The first thing I recommend is to set up a new “Coaching” calendar. To do this, open Google Calendar and click on the plus sign (on the left-hand side) and scroll to New Calendar. Add a name and description to your calendar and click Create Calendar.

Next, you can set up appointments on your calendar that teachers can reserve. To set up appointment slots:
  1. Go your Google Calendar and make sure that you're in Day view or Week view.
  2. Click on the day you wish to make an Appointment Slot.
  3. Drag down from your beginning time slot to your end time slot.
  4. Then click on Appointment Slots from the pop-up window.
  5. Enter the details, including a title, duration, and pick the calendar where you want the event to show up.
  6. Click More Options to add more information like a location or description.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Copy and paste the calendar's appointment page link from your browser.
  9. Send this link to the teachers who want to book an appointment.
The great thing about appointment slots is that teachers won’t be able to reserve a time you aren’t available. Once a time is reserved, the time is filled in and unreservable by others.

instructional coach

2 – Conduct Walkthrough Observations with Google Forms

There may be times when you need to conduct informal walkthroughs to observe what is happening in a teacher’s classroom. Google Forms allows you to customize a personalized walkthrough evaluation for teachers. I’ve seen QR codes posted outside teacher’s classrooms that lead to a Google Form for the walkthrough. On her blog, Mari Venturino has great instructions on how to create a Form using Autocrat. Autocrat will allow you and the teacher to receive an email with the observation notes once you hit Submit on the form. The teacher can then follow up with you to discuss the notes and/or ask for specific support.

3 – Coach Virtually with Google Hangouts Meet

If you can’t meet with your teachers face-to-face, then Google Hangouts Meet is a fantastic tool to use to connect with them virtually. Meet is a video conferencing tool that lets you connect remotely with one or more teachers. With Meet, you can share useful ideas and resources using the chat feature, you can share your screen if you need to show or demonstrate something, and you can even record the meeting if you want to review the conversation afterward.

It’s easy to schedule a Meet video meeting in Google Calendar. All you have to do is just create an event and add your teachers to it. A video meeting link can be added to a calendar event either by adding one or more guests to the event or by clicking on Add conferencing. After you save the event, a meeting link and dial-in number are added to the event.

4 – Organize Professional Learning Resources with Google Sites

If you need a better way to provide and organize professional learning resources for your teachers, then Google Sites is your answer. There is so much you can share on a Google Site. For example, you can include videos, example lesson plans, articles, etc. You can even embed your Coaching Calendar on the site. Your teachers will thank you for the additional support you are offering them. Google Sites is so very easy to use. You can find instructions here. Kristen Houser has a sample coaching site on her blog.

instructional coach

5 – Create Videos or Tutorials with Screencastify

If your teachers have a question that requires a demonstration, then Screencastify is a wonderful tool to use to capture video. Screencastify is a free Chrome extension that allows you to record your screen and your voice. Once you download the extension from the Chrome Web Store, you can just click the icon from your Chrome browser. Then, you can either directly load your screencasts to Google Drive or upload directly to YouTube.

Try using all or some of the Google tools listed above to manage your day-to-day activities and to support your teachers more effectively. If you are already using Google tools in your role as an instructional coach, let us know how in the comments below.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Four Google Slides Tips for Amazing Presentations

Google Slides is one of the best presentation tools that I have used. It has come a long way from when it first came out because Google continues to add updated features to it. While the collaborative features of allowing multiple editors to work on a presentation together is great, there is so much more you can do with Google Slides. The four important tips below will enable you to tap into the potential of Google Slides while also allowing you to create engaging presentations that will amaze your audience.

Tip #1: Use a Template as Your Starting Point


If you want to get your message across, you must first be able to captivate your audience. Part of that captivation is realizing that we are all visual beings; therefore, an effective presentation design is as important as the message itself. If you are stuck trying to come up with a creative look for your slideshow, then enlist the help of slide templates.  Templates can serve as your starting point or as an inspiration for what you want to create yourself. 

Tip #2: Insert Videos Directly into Your Google Slideshow

There’s a lot to be said for having videos in your slideshows. It can keep presentations interesting, offer additional learning experiences, and give your voice a break. You can insert videos into Google Slides two different ways: through YouTube or through your Google Drive.

To insert a video, make sure that you have the YouTube URL or that it is already uploaded to your Google Drive. Then navigate to the Insert menu and select Video. A box will open with separate tabs to “search” YouTube, link directly through a YouTube URL, or navigate your Google Drive files. Simply enter the URL or select the file you want to link to your slideshow, and then press Select to insert it into your slide.

To see how to enhance your presentation with more than just video, read the Fabulous Presentations with Google Slides blog.

Tip #3: Use Slides Q&A to Interact with Your Audience


While presenting, allow your audience to ask questions through Slides Q&A. Being interrupted to answer questions while you are presenting can make you, the presenter, lose your train of thought. Thankfully, Slides Q&A offers a great solution to that.

With the Slide Q&A feature, your audience can submit questions using a specific link you give them. The questions will be visible to both you and the audience. The audience can vote up questions that they are interested in, ensuring that you answer higher priority questions first. By simply submitting questions from any device, your audience will be more involved in the presentation. Furthermore, they will feel like they are getting real-time feedback.

The Q&A feature is accessible through the Presenter View. To see how to get started using this wonderful feature, read the Engage Students with Google Slides Q&A blog.


Tip #4: Present with Your Phone

Thanks to the Remote for Slides Chrome extension, you don’t have to buy a presentation clicker. In addition, you don’t have to be tethered to your laptop while you present. The extension works in collaboration with your Google Slide presentation so you can walk around the room with your phone and still advance your slides. If you included talking points in the slide notes section, you can view these on your phone as well. Another thing to note is that a timer is also available to help you keep track of time. For step-by-step instructions on how to use the Remote for Slides Chrome extension, check out the Use Your Phone as a Google Slide Presentation Remote blog.

Ready to Present?

If you have an upcoming presentation, try some of the tips mentioned above to take your presentation to the next level. Your presentations will surely catch the eye of every audience member!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Six Ways to Spice Up Back-to-School Inservice 

The beginning of the school year is fast approaching and teachers will be walking in the front door for their first back-to-school inservice. This can be one of the most important and productive professional development opportunities of the school year. But on the other hand, it can also be one of the most dreaded for teachers, who want time to work in their classrooms. So how can you spice up your inservice and ensure it isn’t a wasted meeting? Find some suggestions below.

1 - Have a Plan and Invite Your Staff to Share in It


The first “must” for a successful inservice meeting is to have a plan and an agenda in place. Agendas make it easier to stay on track and follow up with important items. When creating your agenda, remember that you want to make effective use of everyone’s time. Be sure to include a section for action items so that everyone can have an overview of what needs to be done.

It is so easy to create your agenda electronically, for example with Google Docs. There are many agenda templates that exist as well. Look at this sample agenda. Once thing you will notice is that it has a place to take collaborative notes. There’s no need to have notes or minutes being taken separately when they can be done on the agenda itself. If you share the agenda with your secretary or even some of your staff members, they can collaboratively take minutes.

Another thing you can do is share or email the agenda to all staff members in advance of the meeting. Invite them to contribute topics or ideas that they think should be added to the agenda. This will show that you value their thoughts and they will be more invested in your time together.

2 - Don’t Do All the Talking

As the principal, you don’t have to do all the talking at the inservice. Allow your staff members to shine by having them lead a part of the meeting. Giving your staff that opportunity will help develop your school leaders as well as build staff morale. You could assign teachers roles, topics, or updates that they will, in turn, share with the entire group. Your teachers will feel empowered by taking a more active part in the inservice. Remember, teachers love to teach, so utilize that when planning your inservice.

3 - Break the Ice

The start of a new school year can be nerve-wracking, not just for students, but for teachers, too. Why not incorporate a fun, getting-to-know you activity? Giving your teachers time to share special facts about themselves or share fun things they did this summer will help ease those nerves. This is also the perfect time to introduce and recognize any staff members who are new and learn a little more about them.

Icebreakers help you build relationships with your staff. Try to use icebreakers that your staff can use with students in the classroom so they can build relationships with their students, too. It never hurts to model what you want to see in the classroom. You can find a few icebreaker activities at Classroom Icebreakers for Back to School and Even More Classroom Icebreakers for Back to School. The great thing about those icebreakers is that they incorporate technology. The ISTE Standards for Administrators say that you should promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital age tools (ISTE Standard 3c). Digital icebreakers will help you do that.

Click HERE to see a Two Truths and a Lie Icebreaker.
The password is Icebreaker.

4 - Try Something Different

There are so many things you need to cover at the beginning of the year inservice, such as policies and procedures. These aren’t necessarily the most exciting topics to discuss; but nevertheless, they must be covered. Therefore, why not incorporate a little fun into reviewing these less-than exciting topics by using a little variety? Instead of showing a PowerPoint, have the teachers complete a scavenger hunt or some type of game. Have them compete in a smack down or rotate around the room to have quick conversations about specific topics. You can find these ideas and more at Innovative Professional Development Models.

back-to-school inservice
Example of a speed dating professional development activity

5 - Incorporate the Three F’s

Do your best to incorporate the three F’s:
  • Food. Food can have a tremendous impact on the meeting's productivity and outcome. I always liked the saying, “To Meet Better, Eat Better.” You will especially want to provide a snack for your teachers to avoid afternoon slowdowns.
  • Freebies. It’s always a good idea to give your staff something to welcome them back. It could be something like a pen, water bottle, or coffee mug that has the school logo on it. If there aren’t any discretionary funds available for this, then you could make something for them. It’s the thought that counts.
  • Feedback. Feedback is important and we all know it. As mentioned in #1, getting input from your staff will show you value their thoughts and opinions. Make sure you provide opportunities for your staff to speak up during the inservice.

6 – Start with the End and End with the Positive

At the beginning of your inservice, make the goal or objective for coming together very clear. Ensuring that your staff knows what the expected outcomes are will make for a more efficient inservice.

Lastly and most importantly, make sure you end each day on a positive note. Let your staff know how much you appreciate them. Make these days about them and be visible and ready to help them when needed.

Have a Great Inservice

Hopefully, this has given you a few ideas on how to spice up your inservice and get off to a great start. It’s a busy time of the year, so make the first days with your staff count as much as possible.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Display Classroom Expectation Posters This School Year

Having strong classroom expectations at the beginning of the school year is so very important. So why not display them with eye-catching posters? If students forget an expectation or if you need to conduct a mini-lesson targeted toward the expectations that need attention, you can just point to the posters.

Setting Classroom Expectations

I can tell you from experience that your year will be less stressful if students know what your expectations are from day one. One of the obvious expectations you might have is how your students should enter/leave the classroom. 

Remember that your classroom expectations are what you want to happen in the room. So they should be written in a positive tone and not filled with lots of "do nots." Think about what a learning environment looks like on the best possible day and write the expectations to help everyone achieve that.

After you have come up with your expectations, then involve your students. Ask them to brainstorm ideas for their own classroom expectations. This will allow your students to take ownership over their environment and will show them you value their thoughts. Just like you, I’m sure your students have expectations as well. Together you and your students can collaborate on all classroom expectations.  It’s possible that your students will come up with the same expectations you did. Once all classroom expectations are in place, make sure you hold your students accountable to them.

Creating Classroom Expectation Posters in Google Slides

Click HERE to download
the How-To Guide.

It’s important to come up with some sort of visual display for your classroom expectations. This is where Google Slides comes in handy. It is so very easy to create classroom expectation posters with Google Slides. Refer to this Make Posters in Google Slides How-To Guide to see how simple it really is. The guide contains three steps: 1) Set Up Your Poster; 2) Design Your Poster; and 3) Print, Share, or Embed Your Poster. Google Slides will allow you to make your posters artistic and professional. Even your students can join in on creating the posters.

Once your posters are created, you have the option of printing them, sharing them with parents or via Google Classroom, or embedding them on your Google Site. 

If you want to see some sample PDF versions of posters I created, click on the links below:
  • Be Kind and Respectful to Others – PDF link
  • Listen While Others Are Speaking – PDF link
  • Raise Your Hand to Speak – PDF link

Another idea is to create a pledge that your students will sign acknowledging that they will follow all classroom expectations. Check out the pledge I created below in Google Drawings.


It’s Powerful

It’s powerful to be able to refer to a visual representation of the classroom expectations and remind students they were involved in the creation of them as well. What do you do when it comes to classroom expectations? What benefits do see for visually displaying them in the classroom and having students contribute their expectations? Share in the comments below.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Use your Phone as a Google Slide Presentation Remote 

At the recent Elementary Technology Conference, I was able to use my phone as a remote to control my Google Slide presentations. Thanks to the Remote for Slides Chrome extension, I wasn’t tethered to my laptop. I was able to walk around the room with my phone and advance my slides as I presented. When presenting, why be stuck in the front of a room when you don’t have to be?

Features of the Remote to Slides Extension

The free Remote for Slides extension (@remoteforslides) was created by Henry Lim, a Google Developer Expert in Web Technologies. Some of the features on the extension include:

  • Move Slides Forwards or Backwards: You can move your slides forward or backward by tapping a button.
  • Timer: A timer allows you to look at the time for which you have been speaking for. This is critical since you don’t want your presentation to go over its scheduled time.
  • Speaker Notes: Speaker notes allow you to refer to your notes during your presentation. This really helps you remember that important information you are trying to convey to your participants.

Installing the Remote for Slides Extension

To install the extension:
  1. Launch the Chrome browser and go to the Remote for Slides Chrome extension.
  2. Click the Add to Chrome button.
  3. Click Add extension in the confirmation box.
  4. The button changes to Checking. Then it changes to Added to Chrome when the installation is complete.

Using Remote for Slides

To begin controlling your presentations from your phone:
  1. Open your presentation in Google Slides.
  2. On the top right, click the "Present with Remote" button.
  3. Wait until the presentation is fully loaded.
  4. Click on the "Show ID & Start Remote" button to view the 6-digit code.
  5. Open on your phone and enter the code that appears on the page.
  6. Press the Connect button and you are ready to go! Your phone is now a remote, with two large buttons to move back and forth between slides.

Try It On Your Phone

The next time you have a presentation, try using your phone as the remote. It works like a charm. Also, don't forget to check out Fabulous Presentations with Google Slides to learn how to create more moving and engaging presentations.