Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Finally...the new Google Sites!

Thanks to my co-worker, Brian Gray, we have the new Google Sites on our school domain. Over the past month, I've had the opportunity to test it out and rebuild some of my old sites in the new version.

While the new version still lacks some necessary features like being able to hide pages from the navigation bar (but still have them visible), remove header slots, control width of site, and control some of the font colors (limited options), the simplistic design is ideal for teachers. In fact, I would not want too many options. The more options, the more room for "ugly" Sites and...who wants that?

With the new Google Sites, you are guaranteed to have a more professional looking site.

I plan on updating my fennovation.org Google Sites resources as I find more ways to customize your Sites (beyond the how-tos out there currently).

In the meantime, check out the new version or our digital citizenship site as compared to the traditional Google Sites version.

I used Canva to create a header (public version so you can make a copy and edit it). I also used Canva to create circle icons on some of the pages (public version so you can make a copy and edit it).

And, because the Awesome table folks are so awesome, they have made Awesome tables accessible on the New Google Sites!

To use it, you can still create an existing Awesome Table (see my previous blog).

Once you have created one, you can see your creations from Awesome Tables. Since I already had them in my existing site, I was able to go to the old site and go to editing mode.



Then, I clicked on the Awesome Table & the gear.



From that menu, I clicked on the table name.



Then, I changed the URL from "edit" to "view."



Next, I copied that URL.



Then, I went to the New Google Sites and, under "insert," I clicked on "embed URL." I pasted the link in the box and pressed "Apply."



Finally, I resized the table to fit my Site. And, that's it!

You can click on the preview button at any time to view the preview version of your site.



When you are ready to go, just press "Publish." FYI - if you go back and edit your Site, you will need to press "Publish" for your changes to be live.

Stay tuned for more detailed presentations to come. In the meantime, try playing with the New Google Sites!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

2015-2016 school year re-cap & suggestions

A year ago, I left my job in public school to enter the private sector. I did not know then how different and difficult my year would be.

Due to those difficulties, I made a commitment to myself to write a review of my year to better reflect on my accomplishments and struggles and to help those in a similar situation.

This past school year, I found myself on the verge or at burn-out levels multiple times. And, I'll admit, I still struggle despite it  being summer. I found myself questioning my effectiveness; questioning my job. Have you felt that way before?

I found myself at levels of disappointment I had not felt since my first year of teaching.

That's when I realized this was my first year. Though I had more years of experience behind me, this was a new phase. This was a transition. I had taken a leap and now, I was finding my footing.

I am still finding my footing. We are all still finding our footing. And, if you have found it, it's time to take another leap.

It's that point of frustration we want to keep our learning an our students' learning at - that point where you want to quit, but you won't because you want to see through the journey. In a classroom, we support our students through this. Professionally, it can be isolating. This was my struggle. And, unfortunately, I didn't realize it until the year was nearly over. So, my goal for 2016-2017 - keep my network of support close. Don't pull the weight on your own.

I spent a lot of time alone, planning. I did not spend time collaborating. I need collaboration. Again, don't isolate yourself. Reach out. Don't be shy.

In my time alone, I had plenty of time to dwell on what wasn't happening. When things are moving fast, there is little time to focus on the negative and only time to embrace the movement. So, take breaks. Write down your accomplishments. Make note of your successes. And, when all else fails, get up and take a quick walk. Rinse and repeat.

I found myself becoming negative and uninspired. At this moment, take a break and create. Create, create, and create. It will instantly boost your inspiration. And, you might discover a new idea to implement.

I have plenty of fears for this next year, plenty of challenges, and, hopefully, plenty of positive moments.

Next year, I'll be teaching freshmen English again for the first time in six years and a makerspace course - the first of its kind at my school. I'll also be continuing my normal job as a technology integration coordinator. My work is cut out for me. I'm excited for the busyness. I'm also nervous and anxious, much like our students are.

This school year, I am going to blog more about my daily experiences rather than just my successes. Writing is therapy. Sharing is therapy. Sharing leads to collaboration and networking.

This year, I started a digital citizenship team that led chapels, parent discussions, and student panels. I also created a makerspace course and helped set up three smaller ones around campus. I also created an infrastructure for change. It's the last point that is hard to see and believe. I still don't fully believe it. I'm sure many of us have been here before.

This year was nothing short of a challenge. And, I won't sugar coat my experiences. However, I won't let them define me, my job, my school, or my work. Rather, when the challenges get heavier, I will write more and share more.

We are connected. Share your experiences and grow.

What were your experiences this school year? What will you do next school year? What advice do you have to share?



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bring the power of digital citizenship to a school near you

This year, I took a new position, which gave me a chance to start fresh with digital citizenship. Over the course of the year, I documented our process for easy implementation at other schools.

Check out our progress and share your success, challenges, and learnings!

Check out fennovation.org for all things digital citizenship as well as Let's Get Digital: Citizenship.



Friday, May 20, 2016

The Maker Journey

This year, I started a makerspace initiative at my new school (a private school for the first time in my career). Over the year, I decided to document it for others to use who are interested in bringing maker to their school, classroom, or district.

Check out The Maker Journey and fennovation.org for all things maker!



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Let's Get Chromified this summer! Plus, new updates!

I was saddened to read last week that support for the Snagit Chrome Extension will end this summer. That was one of my top five favorite extensions.

With that in mind, I've added a few other screen capturing tools to the Let's Get Chromified list, including:

MediaCore Capture: "You can capture anything on your screen — including your web browser, applications and desktop — or record video straight from your webcam. MediaCore Capture also makes it easy to overlay video from your webcam on a screencast recording — perfect for recording presentations, assignments and demos. "
Capture Cast: "CaptureCast Chrome is a FREE video screen capture extension with no restrictions on the length of your recordings. You can use the screencast recorder to capture your desktop screen, web camera, document camera, and microphone with seamless uploading to YouTube and Vimeo."

I've also added Alice Keeler's Drive 20, which will open up the first 20 files in Drive with one click. Of course, you can also change the 20 to another number as well.

And, I also added Drive Tunes, an app that turns your Google Drive into a media player. And, with unlimited storage in your school Drive, why not put all of those chorale tunes in there and hit play?!

You can check out all things Chrome at fennovation.org. You can also check out the Let's Get Chromified full presentation or this summer's exclusive Let's Get Chromified: Productivity Edition.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Google Classroom - my favorite uses!

It's almost time for summer break and what better time to explore some uses of Google Classroom than now?! Once school starts, the year often gets too busy to check out and integrate new uses, so why not start now?

Today, I gave my Classroom presentation a major face-lift. I also added a few updates including:


  • Wizer.me - I discovered this during #txgoo this past weekend. This site allows you to create and browse interactive classroom resources that share nicely on Google Classroom.
  • Schedule posts - if you haven't heard, you can now do this on Google Classroom
  • Guardian access - coming this fall
  • Polls - in addition to the Q&A feature on Google Slides, you can get immediate feedback on Google Classroom. Hip, hip, hooray!
  • Google Calendar - you get a Calendar for every class. You can share these calendars for anyone with the link to see and put them on your Website. This gives others access to view assignment due dates. 

Check out fennovation.org for more Googleness and check out Getting Automated with Google Classroom for 50 slides worth of ideas!



Happy Monday!


Google Apps Hacked: More updates for your summer! Scan & convert files with your phone!!

I love finding new uses for my favorite Google Apps. Recently, I discovered a few things I did not know that you could do:

  • Provide links for direct download (instead of linking to a file in your Drive that someone will have to download, link to the download link so it automatically downloads)
  • Scan documents with your phone and convert them to editable text in a Google Doc - yes, this is a real thing!
  • Save YouTube videos to your Google Drive!

(My favorite is #2)

Check out fennovation.org for more Googleness as well as the Google Apps Hacked presentation where you can find many "hacks" on your favorite apps. I challenge you to try at least one in your daily use!


Happy Monday!