Friday, May 19, 2017

Get Ready for Summer!

Head out for some beach time but bring your library with you!
It's almost here! Summer is just around the corner and we, both students and faculty, are ready to relax and have a little down time. But... August will soon be upon us and you'll want some resources to get ready for the new school year. logo and your local libraries to the rescue! Take advantage of these free and available-wherever-you-are, digital tools that are available to all Michigan residents this summer. 

Not sure how to use these tools? MeL has you covered with on-line tutorials that will show you how to utilize these resources for yourself and your students! They've even created a Google Doc with links that you can make a copy of and share with your students. So, as long as you have an Internet connection, and live in Michigan, you can:

If you are in Michigan when you connect, you don't even need to enter your library card information. How easy can this get?! Gotta love!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Seniors, Back Up Before You Leave!

It's here! Today is the graduating class of 2017's last official day of school at CCHS. It's one of those bittersweet type of days. Exciting for seniors to anticipate graduation, the senior all night party and to be moving on to the next phase and yet, sad to be leaving behind their high school years, teachers and perhaps some of their friends as they move on to colleges far apart from each other.

As seniors ready themselves to leave high school and move on to the rest of their life one of the last things they are thinking about is archiving their high school digital documents and projects.
Don't Let This Happen To You!
However, every fall we receive calls from last year's seniors asking for access to their Google Drive. If our I.T. department hasn't deleted their account we can usually accommodate their request but we can't guarantee this. If the account has been removed, the content will not be retrievable and the answer will be "No".

Don't let this happen to you! Luckily Google has provided a tool to allow you to take your stuff with you. Log into your school Google account and then navigate to Google Takeout. Select the Google tools that you want to archive (Drive, Contacts, Email, etc.) and Google will zip them up and send you a link to download to your computer or other storage device. Now when you need something from high school, you have it!

So, Congrats to the CCHS graduating class of 2017 and don't forget to take your stuff!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Useful Chrome Add-ons

It's been a while since I've done a tools type post so here we go... Below you'll find a few Chrome Extensions that I utilize frequently or recently learned about and found useful that you might find useful as well.

Tab Scissors and Tab Glue: These two are a team. Tab Scissors allows you to split your screen and show two windows at the same time. Select the tab you want in the second window and click the Tab Scissors icon in your toolbar. That tab will now show in split screen view. Any guesses what Tab Glue does? Yup! Use Tab Glue to unsplit your screen. Who needs dual monitors? Well... not giving up my dual monitors anytime soon but this is a good workaround when you're working on your laptop away from your desk!
Example of Tab Scissors extension

Save to Keep: Google Keep is a Post-it like note-taking app that works within the GSuite environment. You can save notes, links, images, set reminders, color-code your notes, and share with others. The Save to Keep extension puts an icon in your toolbar that allows you to quickly save a web link, and quickly add a note to it, into your Keep notes with one click. Another nice feature of Keep? You can have a sidebar of your Keep notes running while in Docs and drag/drop from Keep into your document.

One Tab: For those Tab-aholics out there (you know who you are!) One Tab is the extension for you. It takes all of your open tabs and makes them links in a single tab. So how does that help you? Have you ever needed to restart your computer or Chrome and then waited for all those tabs to reload? One Tab makes for a huge time saver! 

Extensity: Now that you have all those extensions running what happens if one causes an issue or you just need enough room in your toolbar so that you can see the url bar? Extensity allows you to turn extensions on/off as needed. You can also launch your various Google Apps from the Extensity dropdown. 

These are just a few of the many Chrome extensions available. Please share any that you have in your toolbox that you can't live without!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Take a Break!

Ahhh… spring break. That time when students and teachers take a full week to relax, catch-up on sleep, possibly travel to a tropical location and basically forget about school.

OK, so many of you are laughing right now. “Ha! Who does she think she’s talking too? We're tired and stressed but have papers to grade and lessons to plan. We can't take a break!”

However, perhaps what we really need to do over the next week is do exactly that. Take a break! Disconnect from your normally hectic educational life. Relax!

Yes, you do still have responsibilities but you will thank yourself if you give yourself some time to just be you. My challenge for you this spring break is to act like a little kid. Take a nap, play, wander, wonder, make something, get together with friends, do something for you. Yes, you might also have adult responsibilities that you need to get done but don’t spend all break doing them. Set limits for work and schedule play time. Doing so will recharge your creative batteries and who knows, as you wander and wonder, you may end up planning a lesson that you didn't even know was possible. So, do you accept the challenge? Great! You'll thank yourself and return to school rested and ready to finish out the year!

See you next week!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Learning Curve of Innovation

After attending the #MACUL17 conference last week, my head was filled with ideas and tools to share with our teachers to implement human-centered design, project-based learning, student-centered classrooms, GSuite integration, and other learning initiatives that abound at an educational technology conference. My hope is that teachers will begin using at least one of the ideas and/or tools that I introduce during upcoming staff PD. However, after reading a blog post by John Spencer, I have to remind myself to allow the teachers the time to become comfortable and competent in their use of these tools and ideas. I also want to remind our teachers, as they strive for innovative teaching, to give themselves and their students that time as well. As the title of John’s blog post indicates, we need to allow learners to ...Develop Creative Fluency. You can’t quit after the first attempt when you are still on that steep learning curve. It took me days to write my first blog post, but now I’m down to about an hour. The words flow more quickly and I’ve discovered that sometimes you just have to stop editing and hit post. The first time you try something new, it feels awkward, you have to question what you’re doing or figure out a new tool or piece of equipment. Your students are the same. Contrary to what many imagine, they don’t emerge from the womb with the knowledge of how to use technology or how to use it to learn. What they do have, however, is a sense of wonder and curiosity along with the willingness to try out that which is new. So, let your student’s natural curiosity lead, learn alongside them and if something doesn’t work out, ask them for feedback. How can we make this better next time? Then give them that “next time.” Build on your skills and soon creating videos or writing blog posts, or whatever technique or new idea you’re implementing becomes second nature. Pretty soon yours will the classroom that others peek into to show them how it’s done!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Are You An Innovative Leader?

What are the characteristics of an innovative leader? In his book, The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros provides eight characteristics of an innovative leader. They must be visionaries that can take their vision and apply it to the classroom allowing teachers to take small steps toward that vision as they build confidence and competence. Innovative leaders are empathetic and consider the learning environment from both the teacher and student view. They should model learning and be risk takers to show their willingness to be the “guinea pig” and try out new things. They must be networked with the world beyond their school’s walls and connect with others to discover and observe new ideas in action. They should then be able to bring those ideas back to their school and be a team builder, working with their school community to filter, add to and build a better idea that fits their shared vision. Through all of these characteristics, however, the innovative leader must always remain focused on the relationships so that the teachers, staff, students and community know that they are valued and appreciated. I don’t know about you, but I think innovative leaders deserve a cape!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Build Those Relationships!

When I started in my current position nine years ago, I walked into a school where tech support was mainly delivered through remote access and staff seldom if ever saw support personnel in their room. Coming from an education background rather than a computer science background and having garnered my PC skills from tinkering rather than study, I didn’t even know how to use the remote access software but did know how to walk. I would show up in the room to work on the computer or other tech equipment. Teachers were shocked! “You actually came to my room?” was often what I heard and so began the relationship building. It started with simple desktop repairs but while in the room, I would ask what they were using technology for and offer a suggestion or two. Soon those who didn’t mind taking a risk were becoming mentors for those who were timid when using technology. It was great working together with teachers, building our community and watching everyone move forward in their comfort levels. Fast-forward to today and our school is a 1:1 environment with teachers and students utilizing cloud-based tools to share their classroom activities with a global audience and each other. I love it when I hear a teacher tell students, “I don’t know exactly how this works but somebody in the room can figure it out!” Look how far we’ve come because we were all willing to teach each other!