Friday, January 29, 2016

Google Classroom: The short of it

While I'm a fan of the long lists of uses of Classroom (I frequently consult them and have a few of my own), it's nice to a short version, too - for easy access.

In case you missed December's post on Google Classroom updates, you should check it out. Now, you can export grades directly to Google Sheets. And, with the new explore feature in Google Sheets, that means you can get graphical representations of that data quickly. And, my favorite - you can use your keyboard to move from one grade entry to the next. I despise using my mouse so, anytime I can use the keyboard, the better!

Check out Google Classroom: Year Two for my favorite uses of Google Classroom and then, some.

And, go to for all things Google!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New secrets of a Google Ninja!

In preparation for #tcea16 next week, I have added some additional secrets to my secrets of a Google ninja presentation.

Today's featured addition:

  • Hype my hangouts - with the help of this tool, you can promote future hangouts. How fun?!

Can't get enough secrets? Check out for more as well as an interactive directory of Google-sponsored free tools for your classroom!

If you are attending TCEA next week, check out my Secrets of a Google Ninja session at 3-3:50PM in the Google Academy (room 13ab).


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Jump start your makerspace with light sabers!

I originally posted this blog in my chasing life's lilies blog series.

This year is our first year of having makerspaces on campus, so it's a year of recruitment and a year to get others interested. With that in mind, I spent the first few months of the year securing spaces and resources. By December, I was ready to bring in students so I started with a maker party - code your own ugly sweater or upcycle an old book into a purse, tool box, or other accessory.

Though only a few students attended our December maker party, they started to make use of the space in their own ways. They asked if they could return to finish. They asked if they could create more. They asked when there would be more. They wanted to keep using the space. In my idealistic vision, I imagined the space as a revolving door - a place for students and faculty to come in and innovate - with hours similar to that of a library.

As more students and faculty use the space, I'll have to solidify a few basic rules and offer some training courses on the tools. But, for now - for this first year - it's about engagement and recruitment.

So, I decided to finish off 2016 with monthly maker parties open to all students and staff during open lunches (a time when students are not required to eat in the dining hall and teachers do not have duties). For January, I hosted a Makey Makey challenge and a light saber creation event. I split up middle school and high school students for more personalized events and better crowd control.

Today, the middle school students entered - 15 of them (we only have 200 middle school students) ready and armed to make. I assumed all were in for the light saber creation, but was pleasantly surprised when several girls asked to explore the Makey Makeys. Some even asked if they could complete some of the projects from last month.

This is the completed version

We began with an introduction of the space and how to use it most effectively. This was an important step in this makerspace since the space is rather small and has not been fully defined for maker.

After a brief introduction to the space, we were ready to create. I found this great Instructables tutorial previously (which I still recommend consulting), which I used to guide the maker event. Before sharing this with students, though, I made one myself. ALWAYS make one yourself first.

First, gather the supplies. I sectioned mine off into various corners of the makerspace for better traffic flow.

  • Clear tube guards for fluorescent bulbs (here are the ones he used). Get the T8 size. These make the blade portion of the lightsabers.
  • Small 9-LED flashlight from Walmart. The kind needed are typically found on aisle-end displays and cost $1. Here's a link.
  • A cardboard tube that fits both the flashlight and the plastic tube guard.We used wrapping paper tubes
  • Duct tape (Any color)
  • Electrical tape
  • Peel-and-stick craft foam
  • Cutting mat
  • Hobby knife or scissors - we used scissors

  • Place items around the makerspace by step. For instance, the tube cards and the wrapping paper rolls were on the same table. 
  • Determine what is best for your office.
Tube guards and wrapping paper rolls went on same table

Example in center. Idea (plastic) mats in center with each step at a different corner of table in counter clockwise order

Next, it's time to get to work! To make best use of the tubes, we cut ours in half. However, in the original example, he only cut off about 12 inches. It's up to you.

We used scissors to cut the rolls and the students (12-14 year olds) did great

Then, cut the wrapping paper rolls. We measured from the base of our hand/top of wrist to the tip of our middle finger and cut. This will be the shaft. 

Now, it's time to insert the flashlight into the wrapping paper shaft. Most wrapping paper rolls are too wide for the flashlight so we placed duct tape around the flashlight (leaving the battery end & seal open) until the flashlight could be inserted, but would not fall out if we held up the wrapping paper roll.

Duct tape of any color to top of flashlight

After, students inserted the clear tube into the wrapping paper shaft (with flashlight). Again, the wrapping paper rolls are typically to wide so we added duct tape to the base of the clear tube until it would insert into the wrapping paper shaft without sliding out easily.

Then, we removed the black plastic covering at the end of the tube. In it's place, we placed a piece of duct tape (sticky side up) on top of the hole (leave a little on the sides so that it hangs out - you'll clean this up later). Then, we put the plastic covering back on, securing the duct tape. To make sure the light does not escape, you may need to wrap electrical tape around the top and sides of the plastic covering. I had to do this for mine and so did the students.

Now begins the aesthetic stage. I put duct tape over my wrapping paper shaft for cosmetic effect. It was not necessary. I also put electrical tape at the end and top of the shaft to secure it and make it look more polished. In this step, you can cut out the peel and stick foam to add grips to your shaft. Be creative and have fun.

In the final step, we colored the tubes with permanent marker. And, then, we used a low grade sand paper to sand down and diffuse the color. This helped diffuse the light.

Now, your students are ready to wage light saber war. And...hopefully, this will help jump start your makerspace. The key is finding topics that catch your students' attention. Here is a list of our maker parties for reference.

Happy making!

Google Apps Scripts: The miracle drug

Recently, I revived my love for FormMule after my EdTech Women crew wanted users to be able to submit a Form & have those responses automatically appear in Google Calendar. I forget how useful this script is until I use it. Like FormMule, there are several that are still only accessible through the OLD SHEETS. So, you either have to go to New Visions and make a copy of one of their scripts sheets or go to first. Then, make a form from the sheet. Or, you can make a Form normally and choose the response destination as one of the old sheets. Same amount of steps each way.

In the meantime, I've included tutorials on some of my favorite scripts (some need a few tweaks, which will come shortly) into one presentation.

You can find more Add-ons and other Googliciousness on


Monday, January 25, 2016

#YourEduStory: Avoiding teacher burnout...brown out

Since there is not a topic for this week, I'm skipping to next week: How do you cope with the stress of being an educator? What do you do to avoid "teacher burnout"?

I first learned of burnout when I was ten. Yes, ten. I'm like many other teachers in that I invest all I have into the projects I'm interested in. However, if you deplete all of your fuel on one task, you don't have it for others. You also need to make time to refuel. I know this. I think most of know this. Yet, avoiding burning out is something I face yearly. And, I'm not alone. The spring wears on us. If we depleted our energy earlier in the year, we are left running on fumes for the remainder of the year. Every year, I say I'm not going to feel the "burn," but I do. 

I am not an expert, but I am a work in progress. Burning out is a reality I have to understand. It's a reality I know I will always deal with. However, it's a reality I can change my perceptions of. I can change how I react to the feelings of burnout I encounter. This is not how you avoid burnout. It's how you cope with burnout. 

Despite our best efforts, most of us will feel the effects of burnout at some point. We will be faced with how to cope with the feelings - not how to avoid it. 

Three years ago, everything was coming together in my career. I felt I was on fire (burnout often comes after feeling like you're on fire). I was at a relatively new job. I was helping teachers and students in ways I had only imagined before. I had organized a community-wide lib dub. I was in the beginning phase of planning a 500+ attendee conference the following fall. I applied and was accepted into the Google Teacher Academy. I presented at ISTE for the first time. I started several student clubs, including an elementary robotics team. Yes, I was on fire. 

But, by the next year, reality set in. The fire cooled. Things were normal. It's the normalcy after the extraordinary that starts my burnout. It's easy to invest everything into something when it is excelling. When it slows down, it is harder. It drains you. You aren't achieving the high you once felt. 

This is how my burnout starts. I know this. I recognize this. How does yours begin?

Since that point two years ago, I have had pockets of "fire," and pockets of "burnout." I understand I won't avoid these feelings, but I can change how I deal with these feelings. 

Last year, I started my snapshot diaries in an effort to capture a moment that...captures me each day. I also started a five year journal that challenges me to write and reflect for a few minutes each day. 

When I would feel burnout, I would crave art, writing, exercise, and nature. The more I'd feel burnout, the more I'd crave those things. So, in challenging myself to reflect each way, I was able to keep tabs on my mental health. Does it stop me from burnout out? No. But, it does help me deal with it in a positive way. 

I also made an effort to devote two nights a week to my art projects - no exceptions. Art is something that makes me feel alive. However, it's also something that I don't always get to do. So, I made time for it. 

This year, I'm challenging myself to finish what I started. When I feel accomplished, I feel stronger and more apt to cope with negative feelings. In finishing what I start, I also want to spend less - and use more of what I have. This is a challenge we should all take. You feel lighter. 

I don't know if I can avoid burnout, but I can cope with those feelings. I will always devote  200% of my energy into tasks. And, when they are on fire, I'll feed off of those feelings. When they slow down, I'll feed off of those feelings. I can, though, give time each day to reflect to improve my mental health, work on art projects to further my creativity, and accomplish what I set out to achieve to feel stronger. 

I can outnumber my feelings of burnout with feelings of strength, creativity, and wisdom. 

I heard the term brown out the first time last year and it fits the burnout I experience deeply. It's pockets of brown and pockets of excitement. Many of us never crash to the point of burning out, but we do hit low pockets that can be difficult to rise from. This is my greatest fear - of being stuck in a brown out - surviving, but not thriving. 

Focus on the feelings that make you, you. Nurture those feelings. With these feelings, you can cope with the negative feelings of burnout and brown out.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Seeking Wonder Junkies: Year one of a makerspace

Since I first published this post, I've held two monthly maker parties, including a January party for creating your own light sabers. Click here to read about our Light Sabers journey. 

In February, we made paper circuit Valentines and, in March, we made cardboard obstacle courses for our Sphero. We also made a Virtual reality tour of it in the Google Cardboard Camera app. 

Next month, we have an Earth Day-themed Maker Party with upcycling coffee bags and turning soda bottles into solar panels. We'll finish the year by turning laundry detergent bottles into ukuleles and coding our own music with Arduinos. You can check out our full list of maker parties here

Though we had an initial goal of creating four mini makerspaces this year, we only have one going. That said, I've found that makerspaces grow up. As there becomes an interest and a need, they sprout. And though, I'd love a large innovation studio, the grassroots mini makerspaces fill a need. 

This week, our middle school Spanish classes are completing a variety of maker projects. Then, they are filming Spanish tutorials of how to create the maker projects. These will go up on their YouTube channel or a private Google Drive folder from now. 

Since the end goal is to bring maker into the classroom, I see this as an major step. Regardless of whether there is a designated spaces, there should be maker thought moving into the classroom.

In April, we are hosting a family coding night. And, in May, we are wrapping up the year of the maker with a Superhero maker night. Stay tuned for updates and details!


I originally shared this post in my Chasing Lilies blog.

"Would like me to make you a birthday cake," my three year-old niece, Emma, screamed as she climbed onto the kitchen stool. 

"Of course! What will you make me?" I asked as she looked through the kitchen drawer for supplies.

" about a dragon cake!" she squealed louder. "Dragons are soooo cute! The cake can roar and the dragon can jump out of it," she exclaimed, getting more animated as the ideas came. 

At three, Emma's a wonder junkie. 

Emma reached for every color of food coloring and dumped them in the icing. "No!" someone yelled from the corner. "You don't want all of those colors in there. Pick three."

At three, Emma's told how something is supposed to appear. 

Emma grabbed the plastic spatula of a thousand colors and dumped it on the cake, crumbling beneath her. What remained was a crater of color. 

She beamed. "Happy birthday, Christy! It's a dragon! Rawrrrrr! Do you like it?" 

What's not to like? 

(Dragons are fictional, right?)

We assign preconceived ideas of how something should be to tasks that are meant to be holistic. We assign random numbers to learning development. We say that a seven year-old must be doing a set of tasks and, if they are not, they are failing. We assign right and wrong values to art. We decide how a fictional character like a dragon should appear. 

In our efforts to standardize education, we've stopped behaving as wonder junkies. Somewhere along the journey, we have started behaving like correctional officers. Wonder does not need to be corrected. It needs to be cultivated and then, shared. 

I challenge you to bring back the wonder. Even in restrictive environments, there is room for wonder. There is room for making. We are all makers. But, only some of us recognize it. 

Recently, I took the wonder junkie challenge to my staff. Not only is it my first year at a private school, it's my first year at this private school, and it's the first year for my position at this school. It's a year of firsts. So, it seemed perfect to introduce the idea of the makerspace. 

To get the climate ready for the idea, though, involves patience and willingness to explore for a year. During that first year: 

  1. Organize a focus group of students and staff who are excited about the idea of making (start with the passionate folks in order to generate momentum).
  2. Meet monthly with the focus group to establish the direction of the makerspace. For instance, will you have a classroom-based makerspace, a library makerspace, an after school makerspace, or several makerspaces around the school. We opted for several smaller makerspaces that each focus on a topic of interest (coding, wearables, recycling, etc.)
  3. Host monthly maker parties. I made this list for our school year. These should be both high tech and low tech activities to bring in a diverse crowd. Keep each party limited to two activities for easy management. I kept the parties to 45 minutes. However, I found that students came throughout the next few days to the space to finish; thereby encouraging the use of a makerspace
  4. Hold a kickoff party. We did this in the form of a Maker Night or a Maker Faire. We staged nearly ten booths plus a photo booth and invited all staff, students, and families. 
Create a space for wonder. Once you create that space and cultivate the climate, allow for it to shape itself. 

The kickoff party started with 8 booths:
  • 3D Printing
  • Google Cardboard
  • Cardboard Arcade Challenge
  • Upcycling
  • Raspberry Pi Tinkering
  • Makey Makey Challenge
  • Short Circuit Robots
  • 6 Word Memoir Stop Motion Animation
However, it evolved into so much more

Students found duct tape, LEDs, cardboard, C-Cell batteries, and cell phones to make talking robots

Students wrote their life in 6 words, drew it, and then animated it with stop motion

Students disassembled old electronics and created new inventions

They turned computer parts into jewelry

They used SketchUp to construct their own structures and then, 3D printed them

They made their own virtual reality tours with Cardboard Camera

They turned cardboard into fortune telling machines

They made messes - lots of them. And, it was okay.

They created without instruction - only ideas

They explored

They turned bananas into music

They set up stands made from recycled materials

They turned books into art kits
They had snacks (for extra encouragement)

Most importantly, they had fun
 It evolved into engagement and excitement. There were no rules of what something was supposed to be or not be. It was holistic. 

We are born to be makers. We are born to tinker and explore. However, we have been trained to follow a formula.  

Break the formula and get started. We are 9 months into our maker journey. We do not know where it will go or how long it will take and we're okay with that. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

#BeYouEdu: Finding Your Story

If you haven't checked out the #beyouedu series +Dr. Will Deyamport, III is leading, you should and you should join! This month's topic is finding your story.

This past year has seemed about nothing other than finding my story - the evolving story. The best part about life's stories is that we don't know where they will go. We can't read them backwards. If we could, I wonder how different they would be.

For most of my life, I have been a maker. From an early age, I was diving into my mom and dad's supplies and finding things to make. I had an obsession with my dad's copy machine for a while. In fact, I still have a book of copies I made. I copied every thing (including myself) that I could find, wrote a story over it, and adding binding to it using the binding machine. I was 8 years old.

I've always found release and happiness in creation and nature. When I need a dose of happiness, I create or I take a detour outside.

However, I never thought about doing creation and nature in my career. Why? I don't know. Partly, I've never thought I could make it into a career. I secretly doubted myself.

First, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I loved to uncover mysteries. I liked finding answers. Then, I saw a video of archaeologists smoking and I didn't want to take part in that. True story.

So, I drifted into the world of astronomy. I wanted to be an astronaut. However, my inner ear issues reminded me that it would not be a feasible career.

So, I went to my other love: writing. Afraid I couldn't make it as a writer, I thought I'd help others through teaching writing. And, that's how I found myself as a high school English teacher - plus a few other details.

My love for creation and innovation returned in teaching. I added art, technology, music, math, and more to my lessons routinely. I struggled with classroom management but excelled in finding innovation. After other teachers came to me for advice on how to innovate, I decided to take the plunge into the edtech realm. That was 6 years ago.

I became a technology director. Within a few months, I realized I went to far to the other side. I missed the kids. I missed working with teachers. I missed innovating.

So, I became an instructional technology specialist and found my calling - for now.

One thing I've discovered about my story is that it changes and it changes often. I started in the edtech realm as a digital literacy enthusiast and quickly joined the Google cohort. However, that, too, has transitioned into an excitement over making and digital citizenship.

I've come full circle. Now, I find myself seeking maker opportunities, seeking books on creation in education.

Each decision I've made has pushed me into education, but my love more making keeps returning. Now, I find my story merging - creator and educator.

You can't escape your story. You need to live your story. You can, however, evolve your story. Our focus needs to be on evolving and growing our story. The best stories in literature are the ones that draw us in. They are full of color and life. The best life stories are the ones that change. The ones we can't predict.

So, in 2016, I challenge you to try something new. Evolve your story. See where it goes. See if it comes full circle. Each time I find my story, it changes. It evolves. I thought I found my story as a Google Educator, but that has evolved. It is part of my story, but it isn't my only story.

Make your story a story of stories.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

#YourEduStory: Wonder junkie or adventure seeker

This week's #youredustory topic: Are you a wonder junkie or an adventure seeker?

To seek adventure, you need wonder. I seek adventure, but I found wonder first.

Often, I feel unique in my love for wonder. When I taught in rural Missouri, I noticed that my students did not wonder. Many had never left a 20 mile radius. They had not even visited St. Louis or Kansas City. Without exposure to other places, it is difficult to wonder or seek adventure.

At my current private school, many of the students have traveled abroad. They wonder about new places. They want to seek that adventure. That said, though many have traveled to foreign places, many have never lived in another type of neighborhood. Most neighborhoods have been gated and private. Therefore, they have little wonder about other lifestyles, economic statuses.

You find wonder in the things you do and the things you are exposed to. Within that, we all experience different levels of wonder. And, for some of us, that turns into seeking adventures. We need those of us who get inspired (wonder) and we need those of us who take action (adventure).

Though some would call me an adventure seeker (sky diver, hang glider, couch surfer, traveler, artist, wanna-be musician, cook, hiker, climber, runner, swimmer, kayaker, cyclist...), I consider myself a wonder junkie.

I seek inspiration. Sometimes, that inspiration turns into adventure. I seek wonder.

I surf Pinterest and various creation sites (Instructables, Makezine, etc.) frequently for ideas. I want to try something new (the adventurer in me) and I want to be amazed. I want to feel inspired.

I moved into the edtech realm of education because I want to be inspired. I want to learn. I want to innovate. These are at the basis of wonder. However, I would never move into this arena had I not have been exposed to it.

We need to help open doors for students so they can begin to wonder. We need to help provide them exposure. Wonder is the base of adventure. It's the inspiration that connects us and grounds us.

And, through technology like Google Cardboard, Hangouts, social media, and more, we can help provide that exposure that will, hopefully, translate into wonder and adventure.

My motto is: exposure. I want to provide exposure for students and faculty to innovation so they will seek that wonder and will, eventually, crave it.

Crave the wonder.

Geosize your World in 2016

I love maps. Sometimes, I wish I still had my own classroom so I could continue to use maps. Instead, I live vicariously through current classroom teachers.

Create your own electronic portfolios with maps. Create interactive maps to correlate to literature. Create shapes within maps. The uses are limitless.

Recently, I discovered MapMe. It uses Google Maps as its base, but is a free and friendly alternative to creating interactive maps.

Check it out and and other cool Geo tools on Geosize Your World. And, find more Googlicious resources on


Monday, January 18, 2016

Promoting Girls in CS: Why?

There are many organizations pushing for increased computer science offerings and higher percentages of girls in the computer science field. But, why? Why is the question I hear often. Why is coding so important?

It's more than coding for me. It's a way of thinking. It's a different way of thinking. Those outside of the educational system ask me, "why don' they teach cursive anymore...why don't they teach [fill in the blank] anymore?" At one time, we taught girls essential skills like how to churn butter, how to press their husband's clothes, and how to have dinner ready. At the time, we deemed those skills essential.

Well, our needs have changed. We no longer teach students how to churn butter. Latin is no longer a required language in Catholic schools. When the skill is no longer applicable in the real world, we need to phase it out of education. We certainly phase it out of business.

 But, education seems to be slower. We associate a nostalgia with learning certain items. We think that our children should have the  same experiences as us even though their world is very different. I grew up with cable TV and a private phone line. Both of my parents were lucky to have a TV and used party lines. Look them up if you don't know what I'm talking about. Whether they wanted my life experiences to be the same or not, they could not control it. Party lines didn't even exist when I was a teenager.

When I bring up coding, there is also a stigma that goes with - a social stigma. Recently, I was discussing the significance of computer science in the curriculum to a highly educated person. At the end of my conversation, he said, "but don't computer scientists just sit at a computer all day...they don't interact with others." Apparently, there is not only a nostalgia for teaching the same things we have taught for generations, but there is also a social stigma about computer-based jobs. Ironically, there are days when the developers in my life spend more time socializing.

There is a giant hole in the developer market. We aren't producing enough to fill that gap. As a result, we are losing out on earnings and...spendings for our economy. And, we are losing 50% of our work force. The number of females in computer science has dropped since I was a child.

There is a stigma that, if you go into computer science, you lack social skills. You are a...nerd.

We need to address several things:

  • Why is being a "nerd" considered undesirable?
  • Why do feel feel nostalgia over teaching the same concepts as before (especially when they have little impact on our life)?
  • Why do we consider computer science a socially limiting field?
In education, we need to less judgmental about what we learn and more critical of why we choose not to learn other things. 

When you ask "why" coding is a big push right now, it's not because we all need to be coders. However, it is a skill that is around us. Coding dictates much of what we do. Coding is in our own health, it's in our finances, it's in our fun. It's everywhere. So, why wouldn't we teach it? We need to teach it so students have the opportunity to decide if it is a path for them. If we don't teach it, how would they know? And, we need to lose the stigma that is is socially-limiting field. Shadow a developer for a day or two. Take a moment to learn about the different fields. We need every career. 

So, to help you get started on computer science and in getting girls into the field, I've compiled a presentation of my favorite resources. You can find more coding resources on

Happy coding!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Get creative with Chrome

Creativity is the most important skill to me. Creativity keeps us inspired and produces innovations. I could go on for days on the importance of creativity, but I'll keep this short.

It's no surprise the Chromebooks have officially surpassed iPads in the education market. iPads once held the market on creativity. However, Chrome OS and the Chrome browser feature a variety of free tools that target creativity, one of the four essential skills (along with collaboration, critical thinking, and communication).

Check out my favorite Chrome tools for creativity in Chromium Creativity as well as all things Chrome on

Enjoy! And, happy creating!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Become a Google Search Ninja!

Searching is what took me down this career path. As a high school English teacher, I found myself frustrated by my students' lack of searching skills. These skills were placed on the backs of English teachers, but they were life skills. Somewhere along the way, the searching skill-set got dropped.

So, I vowed to make a difference in this area.

Google has made strides in making searching easier, safer, more efficient, and beneficial.

Over the past two years, I have compiled my favorite Google searching tips into one presentation. So, enjoy! Share any tips I missed, too.

You can find all things Googlicious at

Today's update: Google Fortunetelling - used as a way to bring awareness to causes Google cares about.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#YourEduStory: 3 most pressing goals

This week's #YourEduStory: What are your three most pressing goals between now and the end of the school year?

It's hard to believe that we can now say "end of school year" and it's not something far-fetched.

This school year is very different for me. I'm at a new job. I'm not in the classroom, but I still work with students on a daily basis. I'm not with teachers, but I still work with teachers on a daily basis. I'm in between both the tech and the instructional world. In many ways, I'm in the middle of all forces.

Therefore, my goals are more centered around job development. In the past, my goals have been about programs I want to start or ideas I want to try. This year is very different. In some ways, it's caused the big-picture-person in me to slow down. In other ways, it's been hard on my creativity.

So, from now until the end of school year, I want to:

  • Finish what I started - in the areas of digital citizenship and makerspaces. Both of these initiatives have gone fairly well so I want to devote my time to finishing my work in both of these initiatives rather than trying to start many new projects. No what your limits are. Do what you are doing well. 
  • Read, read, and read. I miss reading more. It keeps me inspired and keeps me relevant. I save a lot, but haven't taken the time to read it in depth. The is key to success.
  • Create. I know this is not really specific to my job, but it helps with my overall health. I want to continue to create and to take classes on creation. With this, I feel I'll be more effective at my job and will be able to support makerspaces more. 

My main goal for 2016 is to finish all of what I started. Financially, I want to spend less. I want to use what I have. I want to go to the places I have saved. I want to finish the books I started or bought. I want to finish the craft projects I have started. I want to tell people the things  I have saved.

Even though I am not starting something new, I am beginning again in so many ways. 

2016 is the year I begin again and finish what I started.

What will you do in 2016?

Monday, January 11, 2016

The best of Google Apps!

When a staff member or student asks me "how can I...", I usually respond with "well, Google Apps can..." The fact is that Google Apps is the answer for most problems.

Today, I share a few new uses to some of my favorite tools.

  • feUse Google Slides as a student newletter
  • Create image masks in Google Slides for a professional look
  • new favorite feature: explore graphs in Google Sheets. This used to take more steps. Now, you can view your data as charts in one simple click from your Google Sheets. This revolutionizes data for me!
You can view all of the Google Apps and their uses on


Friday, January 8, 2016

Let's Get Chromified in 2016!

Chrome is my favorite topic to present. It's my favorite topic to research. And, it's my favorite topic to share. So, in this second week of 2016, it's time to get started with Chrome and all it has to offer.

Check out Let's Get Chromified to up your Chrome game. And, check out for a directory of my favorite Chrome Apps & Extensions, searchable by topic, too!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Infographics rule!

I don't know about you, but I'm a multitasker. And, as a multitasker, it is hard to retain information effectively. That's why infographics are important - not only to read, but to create.

They are a short and effective way of conveying information. Our students are more apt to respond to and read. But, they should also create them. The art of creating infographics is the art of being concise. It's the art of choosing your words with purpose. It's the art of choosing images that matter.

To help you get started with infographics, I've compiled my favorite creation tools into one presentation. Though, admittedly, to get the point across, I should put them into an infographic!

Check out for more presentation tools to get you started. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Finishing what I started

I'm not one for resolutions, but the new year is a great reminder of fresh starts and new achievements. With that in mind, I read an article shared by +Kelly Kermode about the 16 goals you should set for yourself in 2016. Many rang true for me, but there was one I felt inspired to complete: finish what you've started. Finish all of the art projects, the books, the recipes, etc. that you've started.

I'm taking this same idea to the classroom and to my personal life. In the classroom, I plan on finishing and following through on all (okay - realistically, some) of the ideas that inspired me.

In my personal life, I'm starting by putting life into my art business. It's been a long dream of mine to do art on the side, but I never put the effort into it to make it a reality.

So, today, I'm launching the beginnings of Fenneworks, my recycled art business, with custom children's shoes.

Check it out and share it with any interested! And, make 2016 year of completion!

Learn to code all year!

Like others in my circle, I promote learning to code heavily. However, I don't always practice what I preach. So, I'm devoting 2016 to the year of maker and the year of code. I'm going to pick a language and complete at least one course from Codeacademy. 

In the meantime, I've organized some of my favorite resources to engage students in computer science. 

Today's new addition is the Chrome App, Koding. Check it out! It has a very clean interface and is geared toward developers and advanced users. 

Check out for more STEAM resources! 

Learn to Problem Solve with Code
Resources by Christy Fennewald

Coding cover.png

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