Sunday, May 28, 2017

Get Up! Leading with Two Feet on the Ground

Brett Favre is one of my favorite NFL quarterbacks of all time because of the way that he played the game. Favre was known to start big games with nervous jitters, making huge mistakes and missing open receivers; however, he was always a different person after the first big hit he would take. While some quarterbacks avoided hits, Favre would look for opportunities to take that first big hit! It would energize and inspire him.

Are You Taking Hits?

If we are honest, leadership is a lot like playing quarterback in the NFL. We don't always have the luxury of having a clean jersey and unbruised body at the end of the day. What often defines good quarterbacks from great ones is the ability to recover from a hit. Some quarterbacks avoid hits, while others look for them.  Every leader needs criticism, disappointment, and adversity to grow, but the real question is, how do you handle the hits you WILL take?

Get Up or Stay Down?

In a recent leadership interview, I was reminded that effective leaders are unfazed by difficulty. Instead, they change their perspective and become solution-oriented. How often do we get hit by a circumstance and allow it to change our demeanor or define our day?

One of the biggest reasons why I liked Brett Favre was because of his tough nature and energy. I admired the way no matter how hard he was hit; he would spring back up and not give his opponent the satisfaction of seeing the hit might have hurt. In fact, the harder he was hit, the quicker he would get up and the more animated he would become. You could never count him out because he never let his circumstances dictate his performance.

Get Up!

How about you? Do you let your circumstances dictate your response? Here are a few suggestions for jumping back up and not allowing adversity to gain the satisfaction of hitting you:


  • Take the hit and get up! Once adversity hits you,  take a moment to observe the challenge, gather your bearings, and get up! Get up and move on as quickly as possible because the longer you stay on the ground, the easier it is to give up. Leaders do not have time to wallow in self-pity because others are depending on you. 
  • Hit the Reset Button. We often see adversity as something bad; however, it can be a great opportunity hit the reset button. Adversity can provide us with valuable feedback and the opportunity to take a new approach. If plan A is no longer a viable option, abandon it and begin seeking out solutions to serve others.  The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of a man who embraced adversity. When he fell blind, he opened up his ears and allowed God to change his heart. It was in isolation and through adversity that he became an icon of what it means to follow Christ. 
  • Next Play. In his book Toughness: Developing True Strength on and Off the Court, Jay Bilas discusses the mentality that athletes need to adopt. If they make a mistake, they need to let go and concentrate on the "next play." Get up and focus on the next play. Live in this moment and learn from the past. We can't change our circumstances, but we can ask ourselves "what is great about this situation?" 
  • Always Protect Yourself. In the movie Million Dollar Baby, Franky, the main character played by Clint Eastwood, told his beloved female fighter the first rule of fighting, "always protect yourself." Although we cannot always protect ourselves from adversity, we can be on guard. What do I mean? Temptation often comes during our most difficult times. We need to be on guard in areas where we know that we are weak, especially during stressful times.  





Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Know Behind the No

Have you ever thought about the "know" behind a "no?" I know that it is a play on words, but sometimes we just cannot see that there are better things ahead. We are so blinded by disappointment and not getting our way, but things happen for a reason. We just may find out or know why at a later time.

A great example of this came from a story that a friend shared with me a few days ago. The story resonated with me because it made me ponder the meaning of life's difficult times.

A Man and His Message

A man was on his way to preach a message to a large audience in a foreign country. He could hardly contain his excitement at the opportunity to reach a large group of people.

Prior to his arrival, large tents were constructed and other preparations were made to the grounds. The day before the event, heavy rains hit the area and continued into the next day, prompting officials to cancel the event. The man left for home extremely disappointed, depleted, and depressed.

How often do we feel this way? There are times when we think we know what's best for our lives; however,  the twists and turns of life often have a way of furthering or preventing us from attaining what we think is best. We may even feel depleted and worthless, but the most difficult experiences are often the most valuable experiences.

What is Your No?

Several days later, the rain ceased and work crews began to clean up the grounds and take down the tents. Several workers noticed the wires of an explosive device protruding from the ground. The bomb was mean to kill participants of the event.

It suddenly became obvious to the man that he was being saved from disaster. How many times do we get angry and hurt when we are told no? We think that we know what's best for our lives, but life has a way of telling us otherwise.

All leaders have to learn to accept that there will be times when life says "no." It may be a missed opportunity or promotion, a broken relationship, a failed project, or a difficult situation. Have you ever considered that life may be protecting us from a disaster lying ahead? Perhaps, there is another opportunity ahead? You never "know" what is behind the "no."

Learn to see "no" as a good thing. Behind a "no" there is more to "know" and opportunities to "grow."



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kahoot! Cheat Sheet

I recently came across several educators who have not hand the chance to enjoy using Kahoot!  To help my colleagues, I developed the following Kahoot! Cheat Sheet.


Please feel free to share with others who want to learn how to use this valuable tool!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Transform your Presentations with Visme

Brain research is crystal clear. We need to find different ways to represent material to students. I am always looking for new ways to present information and came across Visme. It comes in both a free and paid version.


What is Visme? 

If you have never heard of Visme, it is a compelling and engaging presentation tool that may come in handy in your classroom. When you create a new Visme, you have the option of creating a presentation, infographic, banner, or custom presentation.


How Do I Use Visme?


Step 1: Create Your Visme

Once you create a free account, you can choose which type of presentation that you would like to create (i.e. Presentation, Infographic, Banner, or Blank).  When you decide what you would like to create, Visme provides you with a variety of templates to choose from.



Step 2: Create and Add Content

Once you have chosen what you want to create, you are now ready to begin adding content. Visme provides an easy-to-use platform for adding content, graphics, shapes, charts, data,
and multimedia. If you would like to add video or music, you can easily add them to your Visme presentation!



Step 3: Publish

When you are ready to share your Visme with the world, you can choose to publish. The free version provides you with the ability to publish to the web, share via social media, embed into a website / blog, or download as a JPG. The premium version  provides you with more options and tools, such as downloading as a PNG or PDF and making private. 



Why Use Visme?

Once you create a Visme presentation, it can be presented anywhere and on any device! No more need to carry a storage device! It is very similar to Google Slides in this respect. 

Visme provides you with powerful tools to give a presentation or communicate your ideas, statistical information, reports, or web content. The interface is engaging and interactive, which adds another dimension to your presentations. Plus your presentations can be downloaded or shared via a link or social media. 







Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Create Engaging Videos with Mysimpleshow

Mysimpleshow is a unique web-based platform to create engaging videos for your classroom! The platform is easy to use and provides you with helpful tutorials do design you first video.

Step 1: Draft

In the draft phase, you will create your storyline to frame your story. Mysimpleshow provides you with templates to create your own storyline or create your very own!

Step 2: Writing

Next, you will write your script in the form of chapters. If you don't like the structure, you can make revisions or additions. The text that you write is for the voice over appearing in your video.

Step 3: Visualize

Next, you will want to add visualizations to bring your script to life! Add visuals, text, or your own content to make your story come to life! Mysimpleshow looks for key words in your story and populates it with suggested images.

Step 4: Finalize

Finally, in the Finalize stage, you can make the final revisions to your video such as adding your own voice, adding a narrator's voice, and add close-captions to your video! Then publish your Mysimpleshow video and you will be notified by email when it is ready!




Conclusion:

Although there are several different paid versions, the free version has many helpful features that make creating your own video simple and engaging.  Want to see it in action? Check out the following link with example videos.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Practice Fluency with Math Fight

Math fluency is an important skill to master for elementary students. Teachers often use a variety of different tools and techniques to help students recall the answers to basic math facts automatically and without hesitation.
Math Fight is an iPad App, which helps students practice valuable math skills in a gamified and engaging way. The App is designed for two students to compete against one another to answer a series of questions the fastest and most accurate. As students answer questions correctly, they accumulate points.

The free version of Math Fight provides students with addition and subtraction practice. The Math Fight Pro version is $1.99 and provides students with multiplication and division practice. 

What are some of your favorite ways to practice math fluency? I would love to hear! Leave a comment below. 

There are NO Wasted Experiences


It is hard to believe that I am on month six of my leadership to interview 50 leaders in one year.  As of today, I have interviewed 29 different leaders. Although some are in business, others in education, and others in the non-profit sector, they share many different similarities and themes. 

There are no wasted experiences. 

Have you ever felt that you were wasting your time? I recently interviewed a leader, who reminded me of the simple fact that there are no wasted experiences. Every experience in life can be used to prepare you for the future.

Mark is a testament to this fact. At age 10, his younger brother drowned. His mother fell into a deep dark depression and was emotionally unavailable for the family for over a year. Instead of looking back on this experience through pessimistic eyes, he realized that this was an opportunity to learn how to take care of himself at an early age.

As an adult, Mark has dealt with the loss of his father, job loss, a series of disappointments and frustrations. All of his experiences inspired him to start a new business, which has blossomed into an organization that builds products and men. He is committed to mentoring and shaping the lives of the men that work in his organization.  Without the painful experiences, he may have never started a business that is impacting the lives of others in his community.

Conclusion

What about you? What experiences are challenging you emotionally, physically, and spiritually? What experiences make you want to quit or give up? It is often within the most difficult and painful situations, where we find our calling or purpose.

There are no wasted experiences. Every experience, whether good or bad, is an opportunity to grow and blossom into the person that you are supposed to be. This is easy to say and tough to do. Perhaps the diagnosis meant for bad will provide you with experiences to have empathy and help others. Maybe the job loss will inspire you to pursue a more rewarding career. The horrible boss that you have may inspire you to become a different kind of leader. The frustrating career may inspire you to go back to school or change direction.

Whether they are good or bad, don't waste your life experiences because they are yours. Your experiences and challenges are unique to you and your circumstances. They are the blueprint to your future and you never know what they will blossom into.







Monday, May 8, 2017

Clean Up Your Chrome Extensions with Extensity

I enjoy connecting with other educators on Google + because it gives you an opportunity to learn from your peers. I learned about Extensify after reading a recent question posed by one of our community members.

What is Extensity? 

Tired of having too many Chrome Extensions at the top of your screen? You may want to consider using the Extensity Chrome Extension to help you manage, enable, and disable all of your favorite Chrome Extensions with just a click of the mouse.

Why would you want to do this? 

  • Chrome Extensions may slow down the performance of your browser. Increase performance by shutting down the extensions that you don't need.
  • If you like to stay organized, Extensify can be a helpful tool to help clean up your browser. 


Extensity offers some excellent features. 
  • Turn off / on individual extensions 
  • Easily turn off / on ALL of your extensions with a click of a mouse
  • Access Google Apps too! 
  • Easily search for any of your apps and extensions
  • Use the profiles feature to group extensions by interest, such as shopping, school, etc. 
  • Manage or uninstall extensions with a click of a mouse


Anyone Can Now Use Google Classroom!

If you are a G Suite School, then you know the power of Google Classroom. It makes allocating resources, communicating events, and turning in assignments extremely easy!

Classroom just recently underwent a huge change! You can now create your own Google Classroom with your personal Google account! This is great news for teachers who want to build their own Classrooms for afterschool activities, professional development, communicating with parents, etc.

Simply visit classroom.google.com to create or join your very first class!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Master Your Chrome Tabs with OneTab!


Managing tabs is not only something that adults need to master, it is an essential skill that we can teach our students.

What is OneTab? 

The OneTab extension is a Chrome extension that can be used to quickly gather open tabs, reduce the amount of memory used, and convert your tabs into a list. Your list can be restored, shared, and organized.

How does it work? 

Check out my brief video to see how easy it is to use!



Why Use This?

OneTab is the perfect tool to automatically generate lists of links to share in a conference or a classroom. Why not save time and work smarter? OneTab gives you the ability to do both.





Wednesday, April 26, 2017

3 Tips and Tricks to Manage Tabs in Chrome

Do you use the Chrome Browser? If you do, here are three tips and tricks to help you with managing your tabs in Chrome.

Tip 1 - Pin Tab Feature

Do you have a tab or tabs that you are going to be using all day? I often use the Pin Tab feature when I make presentations so that I don't accidentally close out of a tab. Even if you close Chrome, your pinned tab will still be there if you reopen your browser. Just right click on the tab that you would like to pin and choose "Pin Tab."



Tip 2 -  Open a Recently Closed Tab

Have you ever accidentally closed out of a tab? Instead of searching through your browsing history or retyping the URL, use the following shortcut to open a recently closed tab:



Tip 3 - Open Specific Pages to Start

Do you want a specific set of pages to open up when you open up your Chrome browser? If you open up your Settings in Chrome, you can choose "Open a specific page or set of pages" in the "On startup" section in Settings. Choose Set pages and enter the URL of the pages you would like to visit upon startup.



Monday, April 24, 2017

SeeSaw + Google Drive = Awesome Possibilities

SeeSaw is a free digital portfolio too to give students the ability to express their knowledge in different ways through written text, drawings, images, video and web links.

 SeeSaw just launched a new feature to share files from Google Drive!

Here's how it works:

  • Step 1 - Click on the Add button and choose Add File. 
  • Step 2 - You can now choose to add files from Google Drive. 


  • Step 3 - Add your files from Google Drive. SeeSaw converts your file into a PDF copy, which can be shared with others and annotated! 


Want to watch it in action? Check out this quick video from SeeSaw!



Conclusion:

I must admit, I really like this feature because it allows parents to see how their students are using Google Tools to create and showcase learning without the hassle. Many of the teachers that I work with have been asking for this feature for a very long time. 





Thursday, April 13, 2017

You are NOT your...

It is hard to believe that I am on month five of my leadership to interview 50 leaders in one year.  As of today, I have interviewed 27 different leaders. Although some are in business, others in education, and others in the non-profit sector, they share many different similarities and themes. 

Know Who You Are

In every interview that I have had, each leader has stated the importance of knowing who you are.  Ironically, this lesson became quite clear to me while taking my eleven-year-old daughter out to breakfast during this past weekend. She and I talked about troubles that she was having at school. 

At one point in the conversation, I asked her to fill in the blank:


You are NOT your ___________.

How about you? How could you fill in the blank? You are NOT your job title...bad day...college degree....promotion....lack of promotion....divorce....difficulties. You are so much more! You were created to serve in a way that cannot be confined by a label. 

I recently heard a speaker, who stated "You are not what others do to you. You are what you do to yourself." How often do we allow the words, thoughts, and actions of others

Who Are You?

How do you typically introduce yourself to a new person? If you are like me, you introduce yourself by your job title, where you live. Is your value 

 How often do we tie our value to another's opinion of our value, performance, or potential? 

If you could never work again, who are you? If you could never earn another dollar, receive another promotion, earn another degree, or receive another compliment....who are you? This is an important aspect of effective leadership.

Effective leaders know who they are and they have outlets, support networks, and hobbies outside of work. They effectively balance the challenges of leadership with friendship, fellowship, and family. Take away their title or job and they will still thrive. 

Take-Away

So, I have to ask you, who are you? Who are you without all of the stuff? Who are you without the titles, the recognition, or qualifications? It's a very difficult, yet important, question to ask. 




Drawing to Learn through Google AutoDraw

Brain research is crystal clear that the way students learn is highly variable; however, have we started to make adjustments in our instructional style to address variability?

Drawing is an important and under-appreciated aspect of learning. How often do we restrict the ways students respond? In our highly digital classrooms, it can be difficult to find easy-to-use and free tools to help students draw content. Google AutoDraw is a new web-based tool available on any device that pairs artificial intelligence and drawings created by you. Here is how it works.


Step 1: Open Google AutoDraw

Visit Google AutoDraw on the web on any device!



Step 2: Create

Use the drawing tools to draw, create shapes, or add text.  If you use the AutoDraw tool, Google will try to identify your object and provide you with suggested images that you can use instead.




Step 3: Download or Share

Google AutoDraw provides you with the option to download your image or share via a link or social media.



Conclusion

This tool provides you with so many possibilities in the classroom! Solve math problems, illustrate concepts, define vocabulary words, create timelines, etc. The possibilities are endless!



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

12 Things You May Not Know About Google Photos (and Cheat Sheet)

Google Photos is a popular way of backing up your images and videos; however, it offers many creative solutions as well. Here are 12 things you may not know about Google Photos:
  • Anything uploaded to Google Photos is automatically private as default. Items can be seen by others ONLY when shared. 
  • High Quality photos uploaded via Google Photos have unlimited storage space. 
  • You can search by a person's face, the location of your photos, or even a word - like "skyline."
  • Google Photos is available on multiple devices. Whether you are using the web or your favorite Android or iOS device. 
  • You can set up Automatic Sync (in Settings) on your device to automatically back up your photos to Google Photos. 
  • You can create albums, shared albums, animations, and collages on any device.
  • Google Photos can create movies with music on the mobile version (iOS and Android)
  • Items uploaded via Google Photos DO count against your Google Drive storage quota if they are stored in "Original Quality" or uploaded via Google Drive. 

  • The Assistant Feature is a helpful feature for creating new items. Google Photos even creates and offers suggestions for sample items. 
  • Albums can be shared with anyone. Share via a link or through social media account. Viewers do not need to have a Google account. 
  • You can collaborate with others to create a shared album. This is perfect for field trips, class projects, or showcasing sports team photos. 

    • Need to create a quick slide show? Create an album with your favorite pictures, then choose "Slideshow" in the top right-corner of your screen.



    Want to learn more? Here is a cheat sheet for using Google Photos:





    Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    Google Forms Cheat Sheet

    If you have never tried Google Forms, there are a variety of different things that you can do with it, such as creating:

    • Surveys
    • Quizzes
    • Sign-Ups
    • Documentation Logs
    Here is a cheat sheet that I developed for using Google Forms: 


    Click here if you would like a downloadable copy. 


    Monday, March 27, 2017

    7 Ways to Use Google Drawings in the Classroom

    Google Drawings is quickly becoming one of my favorite tools. How do you use it? How can you incorporate it into your classroom? Here are 7 ways to use Google Drawings in the classroom:



    Do you have other creative ways of using Google Drawings in the classroom? I would love to hear your ideas! Please comment below.

    Friday, March 24, 2017

    14 Things Siri Can Do

    Siri is a powerful tool that often gets overlooked; however, it has the power to help you stay organized, increase efficiency, quickly find information, and perform tasks with very little effort. Just when you learn one trick, there are new things added each day!

    Here are 14 things that you can do with Siri to increase your productivity inside and outside of the classroom:



    Click here to download the PDF version of the 14 Things Siri Can Do Cheat Sheet.

    If you are interested in seeing the full list of Siri commands, here is an excellent article from CNET that has even more!


    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Tell Your Story with Sutori

    How do you tell a story? Sutori is a free tool for telling your story in a unique, engaging, and interactive way.



    Here is how it works:

    Step 1: Create Your Title

    Create a short title to get your audience engaged and interested in your Sutori.


    Step 2: Use the Story Tool

    Creating your story begins with using the Story Tool. You can use the tool to add, move, or delete items. Not only can you add traditional text and multimedia components, you can also add assessment tools (i.e. multiple choice and drag and drop) and a discussion forum.



    Step 3: Collaboration

    Groups are a great way to collaborate with others on your story. Collaboration is free and unlimited, meaning you can add as many users as you want. The only limitation with the free version of Sutori is indeed with the number of groups you can create, limited to two per user.


    Step 4: Share the Love

    When you are finished with your story, add a conclusion and share with the world to see. There are a variety of different ways to share your Sutori with the world.


    Conclusion:

    Sutori is an excellent tool for creating engaging and interactive stories that will solidify learning. Need more information on how to use Sutori? Check out Sutori's How to Create a Story guide.

    Need help being inspired? It may be helpful to explore what users have created.





    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    Encouragement: The Breath of Our Soul

    I recently met Karen on my leadership journey to interview 50 leaders in one year. She is one of the most positive and encouraging people that I have ever met. Whether it is thanking a veteran for their service or offering a kind word to a stranger, she makes it a point to encourage others on a daily basis. In fact, she regularly distributes pre-printed cards with encouraging quotes to others on a regular basis.

    I was intrigued when she handed me a business card containing the word "encourager" as her title. In a world full of negativity, her job title stood out to me like an oasis in the desert.  Her journey to encouragement began fifty years earlier, when a kind-hearted little girl offered Karen the most valuable commodity - friendship and encouragement.

    What is Encouragement? 

    To encourage means to notice, find value, appreciate, and care for the needs of others. Leaders must encourage others to inspire greatness because encouragement is like breathe to our soul. In our fast-paced and ultra-competitive world can forget to see the needs of other people. We can intentionally or unintentionally alienate colleagues, annihilate the competition, and dehumanize others to meet the bottom line. Is our need to get ahead distracting us from encouraging others?

    One Small Action

    Encouraging others may be uncomfortable, unnatural, or overwhelming; however, it can be as simple as a kind gesture or action. I recently came across a great illustration in a video of a teacher who encouraged a student to finish a race. The student, named Matt, has significant physical challenges which make running tough; however, he wanted to run a 400-meter race (or one lap around the track).  At one point in the race, Matt was overcome with fatigue and discouragement, but his teacher quickly reacted and inspired an entire school.


    Conclusion

    The number one job of a leader is to encourage others to reach the impossible. Great leaders and organizations inspire greatness in others. Encouragement is the currency used to achieve the impossible.

    One action, one kind word, one note, one smile, or one text can breathe encouragement and inspiration into another person's life. When was the last time you encouraged another person? When was the last time that you offered a kind word, note, or email?  Take a moment to encourage another person today. You never know how powerful your words or actions will be.


    NOTE:

    Encouraging others is something that I need to work on. In order to challenge myself, I decided to take a page out of Karen's book and created personalized postcards from Vistaprint. I am using the cards as a tool to inspire and encourage others.








    Monday, March 13, 2017

    NEW! Quizlet Learn Adapts to Your Student's Needs

    How do you typically prepare your students to take a quiz? Do you help them create a study plan? Does your approach customize and adapt to your student's individual needs? Quizlet launched a new tool called Quizlet Learn, which does exactly that.

    How Does it Work? 

    Tell Quizlet what materials you need to master and when you need to learn them by. Quizlet Learn develops an individual study plan that adapts to your needs.

    The program identifies patterns and makes adjustments to increase or decrease difficulty while you are studying. Quizlet Learn provides you with up-to-date information on your progress to keep you focused and motivated. Quizlet Learn is currently available on iOS, but an Android version will be coming soon.

    Conclusion:

    Quizlet Learn is an excellent tool to increase student engagement and motivation. Students have the ability to set due dates and measure their progress to see how close they are to reaching their goal. Quizlet customizes review materials to provide the appropriate rigor and relevance to challenge students to learn material more effectively.

    Want to learn more? Check out this brief video:





    Sunday, March 12, 2017

    Good?


    The word good can take on many different connotations. It can provoke a sense a feeling of peace and generate positive emotions. When life is good, we feel good. The word good can rise the cynic within us. We scroll through social media posts and grow cynical by the good life our friends and family have.

    The truth is that life is good, but it can be hard to see in the midst of adversity, challenge, and heartache. When our world is falling apart, it can be difficult to see anything good. Seeing the good in any situation is essential to growing as a leader. Whether you are leading students, teachers, soldiers, or a sales staff, there will be times that you have to find the good in a situation. The people who rely on you are counting on you. If you are trapped within a world of darkness, how can you lead others to the light?

    Good:

    A few months ago, a colleague recommended that I view the following clip by former Navy Seal, Jocko Willink. In the video, Jocko talks about his philosophy in dealing with adverse situations. Although I am not as intense as Jocko, it was a great reminder that I have to learn how to see the good in life. Cynical and negative leaders tend to have a short shelf life.




    I challenge you to say the word "good" when things are falling apart. I challenge you to see the "good" when things appear bad. There is a great saying in scripture that says "what you meant for evil, God meant for good."

    Where can you begin? Where can you start small?

    Things didn't go your way? Good...a chance to find another way.

    Struggling with others? Good...a chance to grow stronger and more meaningful relationships.

    Fell on your face once again? Good....a chance to redeem yourself.

    It is not easy, but the people in your life are counting on you to master this. We must master ourselves before we can master our piece of the world. What is your struggle?

    How can you learn to own it, appreciate it, and see the good?


    4 iPad Accessibility Features You May Not Know About

    If you have an iPad, you may be aware of the many free accessibility tools designed to increase access and remove barriers. You can access the accessibility features on your iPad by going to Settings and choosing Accessibility.  

    I have created the following iBook with 10 iPad Accessibility Features for Students. The book contains information about each tool, cheat sheets, and links to video tutorials. Here are four free accessibility tools you may not know about. 


    1. The Zoom Feature


    The Zoom Feature is helpful for magnifying the display of your iPad. This tool can be used with students with visual difficulties or as a way to enlarge content to project on your teacher iPad. Once this feature is turned on in the Accessibility menu, simply tap three fingers on your screen to activate. 



    2. Magnifier

    Have you ever had difficulty reading the fine print on a sign or need a little extra help seeing a particular object? The Magnifier feature on your iPad uses your camera to zoom in on objects. Not only can you adjust the brightness and contrast, you can also apply filters, such as white/blue, yellow/blue, grayscale, yellow/black, and red/black. 

    Check out a brief video tutorial below: 



    3. Speech

    The Speech feature is a text to voice feature, which is helpful for providing assistance to struggling readers or auditory learners. Once the feature is activated, you can highlight specific text and press the speech button to hear the passage read aloud. Want to customize the speed and voice type? You can do that too! Check out a brief tutorial video below:


    4. Guided Access

    We all have had those students who are distracted and need a little extra support staying on task. Guided Access is a helpful accessibility tool, which restricts student access to only one App. Students cannot leave the app until the passcode is entered OR time is up.

    Check out this brief tutorial below:



    Conclusion:

    If you would like more ideas, I have created the following iBook with 10 iPad Accessibility Features for Students. The book contains information about each tool, cheat sheets, and links to video tutorials. 


    Wednesday, March 8, 2017

    8 Ways the Post-It Plus App Can Be Used in the Classroom

    I have grown to love the Post-It Plus iOS App because it provides numerous options for engaging students in the classroom. I would like to share eight ways it can be used in the classroom.

    1. Word Practice

    Just the other day, I was in a 1st-grade classroom to practice making compound words. Instead of writing words on paper, students used the App to practice putting together post-it notes to make compound words.

    You may even want to consider have students practice recognizing patterns in words, such as synonyms, antonyms, and parts of speech.

    2. Vocabulary Practice

    Provide students with a list post-it notes containing words and definitions. Have students match the vocabulary word with the meaning. Take it a step further and have students draw an example of the vocabulary word using the editing tools on Post-It Plus.

    3. Sequencing the Parts of a Story

    Elementary students often need practice sequencing the events in a story. After students read a passage, have key events from the story listed on post-it notes. Have students position the events in the order they occur as a quick way to check for understanding.

    4. Solve Math Problems

    Write down a math problem on post-it notes, then have students address the problem using the editing tools on Post-It Plus. Recently, I worked with a group of students to practice determining whether a value was greater than or less than another. Students used the editing tools on Post-It Plus to write their answers.

    5. Sequence Steps of a Math Problem

    Why not write down the steps needed to solve a math problem? Have students reposition the post-it notes in the proper order. To take it a step further, give students the steps for solving a problem and an actual problem to solve.  Have students position the steps for solving the problem and then show their work for each step on each post-it note.

    6. Create a Timeline

    Write down the names and descriptions of historical events on post-it notes and have students develop a timeline as a visual and hands-on way to practice sequencing events.

    7. Diving Deeper into Content 

    Provide students with characteristics of an object, topic, or life form. For example, perhaps you are a Science teacher who has created post-it notes with the characteristics of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Students can use the Post-It Plus app to create three separate boards for each type of creature.

    Students can label the board with the name of the life form and drag and drop each characteristic on each board. Students can even create their own post-it notes to list additional characteristics.

    8. Collect Exit Tickets

    If you are like me, then you may like to use post-it notes as a way to create "Exit Tickets" out the door. As a secondary teacher, I used to hurry to collect and read all of the post-it notes from my previous class before my next class arrived. The Post-It Plus App allows you to scan the post-it notes at the end of the class and read, write notes on, or discuss with students the next day. No more worrying if a post-it note got lost, thrown out, or fell off of the wall!






    Tuesday, February 28, 2017

    Google Drawings Cheat Sheet and Ideas

    Google Drawings is an amazing tool that teachers can use to create interactive worksheets, graphic organizers, virtual manipulatives, and more! If you are not familiar with how to use this tool, I have created the following cheat sheet to help you learn how to use this amazing tool.

    Click here to access a PDF copy of the Cheat Sheet.


    Ideas for Using Google Drawings in the Classroom

    If you have never used Google Drawings, it might be helpful to see examples of how others use them in the classrooms. See below for a presentation that I developed:





    Monday, February 27, 2017

    4 Ways Tech Will Excite Students on Read Across America Day



    As we approach Read Across America Day (March 2, 2017), I want to share with you four activities to increase your student' passion for reading!




    1. Retell Your Story with Shadow Puppets EDU

    We remember 90% of what we teach others. Why not use technology to have your students retell or summarize a story? A teacher that I work with uses Shadow Puppets EDU to have her students retell the major points of the story using first, next, then, and finally.




    2. Sequencing Practice with Post-It Plus 


    Sequencing can be a major challenge for students. Why not write down the major details of a story on post-it notes? Place the post-it notes on a table. Have students use the Post-It Plus App to scan, re-organize, and write/draw/type additional information on the virtual post-it notes.




    3. Create Book Trailers!

    Why should students only be excited for 1 week? Why not have students create book trailers of their  favorite books using iMovie. Each trailer can contain exciting information, powerful quotations, and reasons for reading the book.

    One librarian that I know, posts the videos online (YouTube or Google Drive are great options) and creates QR Codes for students to access trailers online! You can put your QR code on posters, walls, and even the books!


    4. Skype or Do a Google Hangout

    It is becoming increasingly more difficult to have guests come into schools. Why not open your classroom up via Google Hangouts or Skype? One teacher that I know is having an adult read to her first grade class through Skype.


    Conclusion:

    What are you doing for Read Across America Day? I would love to hear your creative and innovative ideas!