Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Take a Dive with Google Underwater Street View

Exploring the deep underwater confines of the world's oceans used to be a place reserved for the elite few; however, Google Underwater Street View opens up a new world of possibilities for students and teachers alike.


Simply visit www.google.com/maps/streetview/#oceans to go on a virtual dive of some of the most famous underwater places and life forms on earth. Google Underwater Street View provides you with the opportunity to explore reefs, life forms, wreckage sites, and see the impact of climate change.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Choose Your Weapon: 5 Strategies for Unleashing The Power of Perspective in Leadership

My career started as a teacher, which came natural to me. I was highly encouraged to pursue leadership positions within the organization because I was viewed as a "natural leader" by my administrators and peers.

Several years later, I confidently applied for a leadership position. Instead, I was greeted by comments about my lack of experience and worth as an educator. It was frustrating to be discouraged by some of the very people who were supposed to encourage, mentor, and help me. In hind sight, I now realize that this was an opportunity to see my true passion - educational technology.

I made the transition into a formal educational technology position about four years ago and have survived through a parade of four different bosses. Each time the director position became available, I was passed up for a variety of reasons. It has been difficult to stay positive and motivated after so many different disappointments; however, this leadership journey of interviewing 50 leaders in a year, would have never started without disappointment.

 Perspective (Not Image) is Everything! 

Andre Agassi made the Cannon Camera slogan "Image is Everything" famous in the 1980's and 1990's. Unfortunately, many leaders forget about the power of perspective. Our perspective influences our words, actions, and interactions with others. How we view our world (and ourselves) determines how we impact others - either positively or negatively.

This point was reinforced by a recent experience I had. I sat in the office of one of the most effective leaders I have ever met, struggling with another professional disappointment. He empathized with my frustrations and even offered advice, but he also reminded me of the importance of perspective.

He told me that I had two options:

  • Feel sorry for myself and "take my ball and go home"
  • View this as an opportunity and "grab the ball and play." 
How I reacted and perceived the situation was up to me, but it could have personal and professional consequences. I could view it as an opportunity to grow or nosedive into a sea of depression. It was my choice. 

Choose Your Weapon  

It's okay to be sidetracked and disappointed by rejection, discouragement, and failure. You are human! Leaders have to learn how to quickly process negative situations, which often begins with changing your perspective. My father once said to me, "when everyone isn't measuring up, it's time to adjust your yardstick." In other words, he was saying that it is important to recalibrate your expectations and perspective. Your perspective - to see or fail to see opportunities - can determine your leadership ceiling. 

After interviewing many wise leaders, I have learned several strategies for changing your perspective: 
  • The 24 Hour Rule - give yourself 24 hours to be as angry, hurt, and disappointed as you want. After that, you need to let it go. 
  • Avoid the Pity Party! It is hard not to feel sorry for yourself and even try to recruit others. As a leader, you have to take the high road and learn what is appropriate and not appropriate to say. You have to avoid clouding your perspective with pity. 
  • Optimism - Many of the most effective leaders that I have interviewed have had an optimistic view of life. It is important to see the opportunities in difficult situations. How can you inspire others with a negative attitude and perspective? Optimism grows confidence and others, fueling their ability to achieve what they felt was impossible. 
  • You Never Know Who's Watching! How we react to difficult situations not only tests our character, but it can also serve as predictors of future behavior and decisions. In other words, how you handle a minor discouragement can predict how you might react in a more stressful situation. Everyone has an audience. We never know how our reaction may inspire future opportunities. Treat each trial as if you were at a rehearsal for your next career move.
  • Remember Leadership is a Process! Leadership is a process. Every leader that I have spoken with has emphasized the importance of experience. There is a reason why you must be 35 years old to be elected as US President. You must gain life experience before you can lead one of the greatest countries in the world. How do you gain experience? By using every moment as an opportunity. 
Conclusion

Most importantly, you must remember that you have value and purpose, regardless of the situation that you are in. There are no wasted experiences. You must trust the plan and allow life to shape you into the leader that you are meant to be. Remember hat your perspective influences your words, actions, and interactions with others. How we view our world (and ourselves) determines how we impact others - either positively or negatively. It is your choice. 




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

3 New Google Form Features!

Google Forms just recently launched several new features to make it even more amazing! Here are three of my favorite new features in Google Forms:

1. Preferences

Google Forms now has a Preferences feature to make changes to all future Forms, such as collecting email addresses, making all questions required, and even the default point value for quizzes!




2. Multiple Checkbox Grid

The Multiple Checkbox Grid is the perfect type of question if you need to get multiple answers, such as the best time or date to attend a meeting. There is an additional feature to require a response in each row.


3. File Upload 

File Upload has been a feature for G Suite Schools for several months; however, Google recently launched File Upload across domains. I'll let Google explain this one: 

"To guarantee you get the information you need, we’ll now allow users outside of your domain to upload files as responses to your questions—provided both of your organizations allow cross-domain sharing in Google Drive. Based on usage patterns, total uploads to new forms will be capped at 1GB, with an option to increase that limit to 1TB. Uploads to existing forms will be capped at 1TB." - Google Updates (July 11, 2017)

The File Upload option allows you to restrict the file type to be uploaded, such as documents, spreadsheets, audio files, images, etc. You can also choose the minimum number of uploaded documents and the maximum upload size.





Monday, July 10, 2017

Solidify Learning with The Interactive Periodic Table of Elements

If you are a seasoned teacher, then you have heard the infamous question "when am I ever going to use this?"

In my opinion, students should be asking this question. It is often our job to provide students with authentic and real-life examples. The Interactive Periodic Table by Keith Enevoldsen is an excellent example of a tool that is both engaging and authentic.


Just click on each element to see interactive components, such as a visual, real-life examples, facts, and terminology associated with the element. This interactive tool is a great way to represent content differently. Click this link to check out the Interactive Periodic Table. 


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Use Spiral to Assess Students on a Whole New Level

It always amazes me how classroom technologies are changing the instructional process. There are a variety of tools available to teachers to help students understand and interact with content, provide timely feedback, and engage students differently. If you are a fan of NearPod, then you will love a similar tool called Spiral.


Spiral is a powerful formative assessment tool, which is very similar to programs like NearPod and Socrative. Teachers can create a free account on Spiral's website. You can link your social media or Google account to Spiral. Students need to visit gospiral.ac, join your class through a code, and provide their name.

Once you login to Spiral, you will be able to access your dashboard with a variety of options:

  • Quickfire - the perfect way to ask a question on the fly. For example, if you asked a verbal question, you can have your students respond in an open-ended way. You can mark the response correct or have students improve their response! 

  • Discuss - allows you to present a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation in an interactive way.  Students can see a slide and answer pre-generated questions about the contents. This is a great way to see how students are understanding the information. 
  • Team Up - is a unique collaborative feature. Spiral pairs up students to work together to create a presentation using Spiral. Students can then present information to the class from the site. 
  • Clip - allows you to create a new level of interaction with video clips that you use in your class. Students can respond to multiple choice or open-ended questions at various points in the video clip. 



What I Like!

There are a variety of features that I like about Spiral: 
  • I like the fact that you can have students improve or resubmit their response. This is something that has been lacking in other formative assessment tools. 
  • You can manually mark responses as right. This is a great way for checking for understanding. 
  • Teachers can see how long it took a student to respond to the question.
  • Spiral even groups similar answers together to make it easier to organize student responses. 
  • The Discuss interface makes seeing content and responding to questions seamless. 
  • You can make videos interactive! Students can answer questions and make comments throughout the video clip. 





Friday, June 23, 2017

You Don't Get to Complain

Summer is here, but my leadership journey has not stopped. As of June 23, 2017, I have interviewed 32 different leaders from a variety of organizations and positions, from CEO's to school administrators - even a Catholic priest! I have learned a tremendous amount of information and have started the process of applying the lessons to my life.


You Don't Get to Complain

Sharon, an outspoken former Vice President of HR, had a unique leadership philosophy. She stated "you don't get to complain unless you have a plan to follow up." In other words, you don't have the right to complain, unless you have a solution to offer.

How often do you complain? Several years ago, I read a book by Jon Gordon titled The No Complaining Rule. The premise behind the book is that we waste time, energy and spirit by complaining. When we are bogged down by the negativity that complaining generates, we cannot have a positive impact on our lives or the lives of others.

This does not mean that there is no room for challenging ideas or beliefs. On the contrary, leaders must stand up and productively challenge ideas with viable alternatives. In turn, our solution-oriented nature becomes a force of major attraction to others. Why? People are naturally drawn to leaders who are solution-oriented and welcome challenges.

Curbing the Complaints

Unfortunately, complaining has been a major weakness of mine over the years. It has been the glass ceiling of my leadership journey. I have complained, grumbled, and pouted, but have often failed to offer alternatives or solutions. Are you like me? Then, how can we curb the complaints and become a more productive leader? Here are some insights from my interviews:

  • Develop a solution-oriented mindset. Solve problems, don't create them with a poor attitude, brash comment, negative body language, or distracting behavior. 
  • Avoid the trap! Complaining often fuels gossip, stretches the truth, and warps your reputation. Avoid the trap of airing your complaints to the wrong person, in the wrong venue, or without a viable solution. 
  • Use the power of questions. Questions are often a leader's best tool because they shed light on the purpose behind words, decisions, and behaviors. Effective leaders use questions as a mechanism to guide others towards solving their own problems. 
  • Find the lesson behind the challenge. There is a lesson behind any challenge. How can you use this to prepare you for future decisions and action? 
  • Develop a Support Network. Everyone does need to vent from time to time;  however, we often forget to limit our venting to a trusted support network. We don't need to share everything with everyone. As one leader put it, "just because you have a thought, doesn't mean you have to express it." Use your support network to get it out, focus on the things you can control, and then let what you can't control. 
  • Exercise the 24 hour rule. A friend of mine introduced me to the 24 hour rule. You are allowed to be as upset as you want for exactly one day. Vent to your support network. Have a bad attitude or throw a temper tantrum in private. After 24 hours, you need to move on and let go of what you can't control.
  • You are responsible for you. I recently heard a speaker suggest, "People have a lot of problems. Why make them yours?" It is a good reminder that you are responsible for you. In other words, you are responsible for your actions, words, behaviors, and attitude. It's not to say that you shouldn't be concerned about other people; however, you need to realize that you cannot solve everyone's problems. You are only responsible to yourself and your responsibilities. 
Conclusion

Sharon taught me a valuable lesson. Leaders do not have the right to complain. Instead, effective leaders must be solution-oriented and avoid the trap of gossip. They must use the power of questions to influence and shed light on problematic areas. They realize that problems are nothing out of the ordinary. Instead, they try to view the lesson behind the challenge.


For more information on my 50 Leaders in One Year Journey, please visit the following link.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Change the Way Students Ask Questions with ClassroomQ

How many times have you been bombarded with a sea of full of student hands and had no idea where to start? It can be difficult to answer all of your student's questions in a timely manner. A friend of mine, created a new website called ClassroomQ to address this dilemma.  Here is how the site works.

Step 1: Create an Account

First, you will want to visit ClassroomQ and create a free teacher account.

Step 2: Start Your Session

Next, you will want to start your first Classroom Q session. As a teacher, you can customize whether you want a sound to play or student comments to appear in your message queue.


Step 3: Have Your Students Join! 

No need to worry about creating student accounts! Students will enter in a pin to join your session, very much like Kahoot, NearPod, etc.


Step 4: Have Your Students Ask Questions! 

Finally, you are ready to answer student questions. Students will use ClassroomQ to raise their hand and add a question or comment in the comments section. Questions will appear in the order they were received in your queue. No need to choose who goes first, second, third, etc.



Step 5: Check it Off 

As a teacher, you can go around the room and respond to student needs in the order they were received. When you are finished, simply click on the student's name and the question is checked off your list. The next question will appear on your list.



Conclusion:

I really love this tool because it gives all students the opportunity to ask questions in realtime. It eliminates the barriers that many shy students face. They can ask a question without fear of embarrassment. It eliminates the conflict that arises when you are bombarded with questions and don't know where to start.