Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#YourEduStory: Digital...errr...citizenship

Sadly, there was not a topic for this week's Share #youredustory. So, I've decided to continue with a topic of my own: citizenship.

Recently, I started a new job at a smaller private boarding school. Coming from 10 year in the public school system, there are a lot of things that are very different, including conformity. Individualism runs wild among faculty. Teachers are considered "experts" of their trade and are allowed to do what works for them. Though this ideology has many perks and benefits, in the arena of digital citizenship, it can pose problems.

Prior to my working here, digital citizenship was not a standard. There was a focus on several larger speaking events surrounding the topic, but it was not embedded deeply within the curriculum. You can say this about many schools, I'm sure.

So, after a few weeks of working here, I sent out a Google Form asking for faculty members to sign-up if they were interested in being a member on a campus digital citizenship committee. And, immediately, I had responses! I asked for each to express their experience with digital citizenship and their goals for the focus group.

We met two weeks later for an hour and we hashed out the beginnings of our plan.

Now, just two weeks after our initial meeting, we have a digital citizenship Website and activities planned for digital citizenship week (CommonSense Media, October 18-24). We have also spoken to the entire faculty about the "plan" and we have a chapel planned for middle school students and high school students to introduce the topic. We have decided to focus on bringing awareness to the issue this first year of our committee. In future years, we will build upon awareness.

So...what are our plans? That's what I am most excited about!

We plan on launching our activities during national digital citizenship week. Since that week, unfortunately, falls on a week full of parent/student conferences, we are having to revise it slightly. All students are members of an advisory who meets each day for 10-15 minutes. So, on Wednesday of digital citizenship week, all advisories will complete an activity. After that, on D-days (a day on our school calendar that happens once a week) advisories will complete an activity. D-days will become digital citizenship days.

To kick this off, we have met with the faculty and we have created a Website using Awesome Tables to highlight the activities as well as the resources. We are also hosting a chapel for middle school students and for upper school students. For the purpose of this year, we have three main focuses: information literacy, safety & security, and relationships & communication. All activities belong to one of those categories.

Though it is still in its infancy stages, we are excited about the momentum surrounding a topic that impacts each of us daily.

What have you started this year that you are excited about?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Getting creative with Chrome

One of my favorite uses of my Chromebook is for its creation ability. They are awesome productivity & creation tools. So, I've compiled some of my favorite tools for creating in Chrome in to one presentation.

Your challenge: create something new this week. It could be a slideshow, a document, or coding a program. The goal is to create.

You can find more Chrome creation resources on fennovation.org.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Secrets of a #Google Ninja Continued...shhh

There are so many awesome projects that are free, require no account, and are sponsored by Google. If you haven't checked out these "secrets," also know as the lesser known tools, you should!

Today, I added the following to my Secrets of a Google Ninja presentation.

  • The SciShow and The SciShow Kids: Learn and explore all the science you can imagine from the comfort of your own home and computer. These two YouTube channels are stellar. 
  • CrashCourse and CrashCourse Kids: Learn and explore any subject you want in one intellectual spot.
  • Technolochicas: An organization dedicated to young Latinas and their families and committed to raising awareness in technology and tech-related careers
  • The Connectory: Your one-stop shop for all things STEAM in your neighborhood

You can find more All about that Google at fennovation.org.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Search like a ninja!

Searching like a ninja is my favorite skill. It's also a pet peeve of mine. When you can't search, it's hard to be productive, efficient, or to advance. If you can't find quality information, you can't learn from it and you can't move forward.

Finding valid information is critical today. It is a basic, fundamental skill.

With that, I've been compiling my favorite Google search tips into one presentation. Though we teach students a variety of engines to use when searching, Google is the one they use when they go home. It is usually the one they use when they are on their own. So, why not teach them how to be proficient in it. How is your proficiency?

Today's updates:

  • Do a Google search for "fun facts." It will provide you with a random array of questions and their answers...a quick way to learn trivia.
Read more at fennovation.org!

#YourEduStory: Blogging inspiration

This week's topic: Whose blogs do you draw inspiration from and why?

Though I write my own blog, I don't follow any particular blog religiously. Rather, I like to follow media that curates the info into one location. For example: Google +. With a resource like Google + or Twitter, I can peruse many blogs and sites a like. 

The main reason I like blogging is for writing purposes. It provides the perfect platform for writing and for sharing. And the best part is that you have a global audience even if no one is reading. I'm not alone in this either. When I first started blogging on Google's Blogger, I would get followers of my blog specifically. And, I would follow blogs. However, over the past couple of years, I have not noticed many new followers on my blog or others' blogs. Yet, my page views have increased dramatically, which means my views have gone up, but my direct followers have not increased. 

My students are like this as well. It's a shift in how we curate information. In the past we may have followed a few blogs and only assumed that knowledge. Now, we use platforms like Google + to see a wide range of self-selected blog posts. 

So, I can't say I follow a blog in particular. Instead, I peruse Google + multiple times a day, searching for topics that grab me. For me, it's more about the topic than the author. I have co-workers who read for enjoyment and some who read for theory. I read for new applications. I enjoy finding new ways of doing something. I'm about efficiency and productivity. 

My favorite topics:
  • Space 
  • Makerspaces
  • Creation
  • Google - anything
  • Art
  • History
  • Maps
Do you follow anyone in particular or do you follow ideas? I'm about the ideas. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Google Apps just got Hacked

Today, I continue my series of hacks I have found to make Google Apps even better. Is it possible? YES!

Recently, I discovered the following "hacks" that have transformed my Google use.
Check out the presentation below or at fennovation.org for more hacks!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Get your Google #appsscripts on!

Once you feel comfortable (no expert status necessary) with Google Apps, it's helpful to step it up a notch with Google Add-ons and Google Apps Scripts.

Last spring, I read about a cool way to use Spreadsheets as a student response system. I also discovered and utilized Awesome Tables - my favorite find.

So, read along and, perhaps, you will find an add-on or script that will make Google Apps the perfect (nearly) tool for you. Check out the Add-ons and/or Scripts presentation. Read Fennovation.org for more information!