Google Keep

Do you have countless post-its scattered about your desk? Do you keep important information in your calendar, in notebooks or random pieces of paper?

Do you often forget what list you made notes on? Do you often forget your list of things to do on your desk at home? at work?

Want an easy way to solve this problem? The solution: Google Keep!

Google Keep is a great way to take your notes and organize them according to content. Due to the versatility of Keep, you are able to write notes using the web based program via your computer (Chromebook, MacBook, laptop etc), as well the Google Keep app on your mobile device.

Being able to quickly jot down notes or items I need to complete in one program, has been a godsend. I no longer have several lists going in several different locations. We as educators have so much going on, Keep allows a little sanity.

Here is a snapshot of the desktop version of my Google Keep:

My phone app using Google Keep looks like this:

Organization and visual appeal are huge for me. I am a visual learner and remember things based on sight (color/font/location) etc. So being able to spruce up my Google Keep notes, is a fantastic addition to the overall functionality of the program.

Thank God for Twitter. I was able to read about Meredith Akers unique way of adding headers to your notes. In her blog post she shares out FREE templates that you can use to create headers that fit your style. She has free Google Drawing templates to create headers by using images or based on color.

Due to the busyness that this new school year will bring, I highly recommend giving Keep a try.

Blessings and well wishes as you start this new school year!

10 takeaways from my first EdTech Summit!

I had the privilege to teach and attend my first EdTech Summit. Not only was I able to share with passionate educators, I was able to learn from other educators. Having only experienced one other technology type conference, I was hesitant in attending.

Why? I have no idea.

I knew I would be around other excited and eager educators, but entering into a new conference setting made me a little nervous. As I sit here reflecting, I am literally laughing out loud! I’m such a silly girl for thinking the way I did. I recognized several welcoming faces of some awesome presenters, that I had seen from past tech conferences I have attended. But, I also met and chatted with some new awesome presenters and attendees.

As I sit here, after two wonderful days engrossed in hard core PD, I reflect upon my two roles at the summit.

My takeaways from presenting:

1. Did I give them too much time to “play”?

So I love to present, but I don’t like to do much talking. I approached my Interactive Infographics presentation very differently than the last time I presented it. I explained my pedagogy, but I wanted to make sure my attendees had time to play. This was different than the last time I presented. For some reason, I feel like I gave them too much time to play. For me, my worst nightmare is to lead a session that doesn’t use every ounce of the time given. I hope that by giving my attendees time to “play” allowed them to gain a better usage of Slides, and they didn’t hate me.

2. Hope “they” got at least one thing from my session.

So as I stated in my previous takeaway, I modified my presentation. I gave them tips and tricks to use while creating infographics. I really hope the hyperlinking & graphing component was something they didn’t know. I know that every presentation cannot be perfect, but as long as they walked away with one new thing…I have to be okay with that.

3. There’s always room for growth.

The perfectionist in me feels like I could have done parts of my presentation differently. I know in the future, I need to document additional aspects of what I am presenting for those who “want to take it further”. I hope that in the future, I can give attendees more information than what I’ll give lip service too. If they are anything like me, they will want to explore more than what meets the eye.

My takeaways from other presenters:

4. “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” -Jennie Mageria

So often my mind wanders as I watch so many people’s Facebook feeds, Instagram posts, Twitter Tweets and SnapChat pics….that makes me sit and think, man they live such an amazing life!?!? Jennie’s keynote message was such an intriguing presentation that made me think about my story and people’s untold story. Quite often other people display their circumstances to the world, in the most bright & magnificent ways. It makes me think, wow, I wish I could live their life. However, as Jennie’s keynote pointed out, that people don’t post the “real-world” & “mundane” items of their day to day life. They tend to focus on their “highlights”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of posting my highlight reel. I think if we are being honest, we all do. As we scroll through other people’s social media, we have to keep in mind, “don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” We have to make sure we don’t lose sight of our abilities and unique qualities we posses. We as individuals, have so much to offer the world. Yes at times other people’s outsides will look differently than ours, however there is not another person who has your heart, soul and passion. So….do you!

5. “If you try to be me, then who will be you?” -Jennie Mageria

Jennie ended with a great story about how her fourth grade teacher made such a profound impact in her life. She went on to explain that she met with her teacher and stated that she wanted to be just like her. Rather than agree and encourage Jennie to do the same, her teacher said, “If you try to be me, then who will be you?” This statement resonated with me deeply. I’m guilty of trying to mimic other amazing things that educators do. However, in doing that, it makes me tend to lose sight of my goals, talents and abilities. I have to remind myself that I have been given a soul and passion that no one else has. My background, upbringing and experiences are unique to me. In that, I have to use my past, abilities and knowledge to leave my own mark on the world. So that is what I’ll do. As I continue to learn from amazing educators, I will put my own spin on it, so that it fits my personality and abilities.

6. “You don’t create a revolution without sharing it!” -Rafranz Davis

I can think back to my first few years teaching. I didn’t really leave my classroom. I didn’t chat with my peers. I came to work, taught my babies and coached. Nowhere in the mix did I ever think of sharing with my colleagues. It was not until I started attending technology conferences that understood the power of sharing. Twitter for me, has been a great platform to share out the wonderful things my students & colleagues are doing at my school site. My mission this last year was to encourage and motivate other teachers to share out what they are doing in their classrooms. By not sharing, we don’t give our students a voice nor do we give hope to teachers who are stuck. In order to start movement, we have to move. We have to document what we do and be willing to take the steps necessary to share it out with the world. My encouragement to you is….it is worth it. Your current students deserve it and so do the students you will have in the future.

7. “It’s not the MAGIC that makes it work; it’s the way we work that makes it magic.” -George Barcenas

We as teacher possess the opportunity to instill magic into our daily lesson plans. The magic (our lesson plan/content) is there, however, it is how we work to display it, that makes it worth it. I am a huge advocate for student voice & choice. I strongly dislike giving my students all the information regarding labs and PBL lessons. Relinquishing this control has been something I have slowly done throughout the years, but through this process my students have revolutionized their learning. There is more work on my part from developing HyperDoc units, creating Screencasts, researching technology, to beta testing it…I tend to lose sleep. BUT I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have the ability to come to work everyday and cultivate an epic learning environment for my students. I want them to be excited about learning and be able to take the knowledge they develop in my class with them in the future. I would love to encourage you to continue in your efforts. If you’re reading this and you don’t have that passion, I hope that you find that one “crazy” teacher and begin to ask questions. I promise, it will be worth it.

My Tech takeaways:

8. Google Extension–iorad

For all you Tech Coaches and Trainers. Have you heard of the extension iorad? Do you often create Screencasts that show your colleagues how a program works? You send it out and get that email response of “are there step by step directions on how to do this”. Now there is!! Use this extension to help you do just that.

9. Google Drawing is my friend!! 

Most people have used Drawing, but have you ever tried to mimic artwork from other people? Using the two tools: Curve and Polyline? Check out George Barcenas explanation of these two game changers. I have already began creating my very own blogging sticker, email signature and so much more!

10. Rocketbook! 

I love my rocketbook. Do you sketchnote? Do you still enjoy the good ol’ pen and paper? Do you want to be able to take your notes and share them in your Google Drive? Rocketbook is the book for you. By using friction pens, the notebook, and Rocketbook app you will be able to easily upload your sketchnotes into your Drive. The BEST part of Rocketbook, is once that it is full you are able to put it in the microwave and erase all of your markings. YES, I just said you put it in the microwave. Still don’t believe me? Check this out!

So needless to say, I’m hooked on EdTech Summits. Thank you everyone for making my experience a wonderful experience.

#KidsDeserveIt

This summer, I have been on a reading frenzy. Aside from reading required texts for my last PASC class, I have been able to read for my own enjoyment. One of those books was, Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome.

This book is a must read for any educator.

I have been a teacher for over ten years and ensuring the success of my students have always been at the forefront of my mind. In education, there are so many obstacles, defeats, changes etc., that can often be discouraging. However, there are often victories, opportunities, successes etc. that can be so rewarding. As an educator, I have had my fair share of both worlds.

After reading Kids Deserve It, I have been so encouraged to share out a few takeaways that hopefully encourage you.

  1. Push Forward, Move Past the Alien Look

Have you ever met with your Principal, colleagues, peers etc and shared an new innovative idea and….they stare at you with “that look”. You can hear a pin drop or they literally laugh out loud at you? Well I can honestly say, I have. I felt the size of the old school toy Polly Pocket. However, regardless of that feeling, I get excited when I get “that look”. I’m a pusher, I love to challenge the status quo.

I know rules are set for a reason, however, I do not enjoy the saying, “it’s the way we’ve always done things”. When it comes to kids, if it requires me to pursue the task because it will benefit kids. You better bet your bottom dollar, I will do whatever it takes. I love what it said in Kids Deserve It, “If we don’t, we don’t push education forward. We don’t inspire innovation and creativity. We just get more of the same. Be glad when you get the alien look. It means you’re thinking differently and trying to push the envelope with new ideas. It means even though not every idea will come to fruition, you keep pushing to give kids what’s best. Because your kids deserve it!”

So ask yourself, what new exciting program, activity, field trip, instructional strategy etc., would you like to implement in your classroom? Do it. Risk it. You have to be willing to set the bar higher than mediocrity.

**Note, if you are a Principal: Be willing to listen. We live in a world that is different from when we grew up. Students don’t learn the same way we did, they don’t experience life the same way we did. Know the legality of issues, but if it’s something new that is worthwhile, let teachers try.**

Thank you to all my administrators that believed in my crazy ideas. You have encouraged me and supported me in everything. I am so grateful for that.

  1. Build Relationships, with Everyone!

A huge part of growth in education takes place when you build relationships. Building relationships and connections has always been something I value. I have been able to build and maintain relationships with many people within my district. I love being able to say I work in the same district, I went to school in. With that being said, I have a huge level of comfortability. However, that didn’t get established until I lowered my guard.

All too often we as educators and people feel like if we ask for help, others will think we are subpar, incompetent, or incapable.

I will be honest, coming into the teaching profession, I didn’t have my teaching credential and did not have any experience (other than my years in school) in a classroom. With that being said, I did not know where to start when it came to teaching ALL students. I had to lower my guard and lean on the people who walked with me during my time as a student. Seeking advice out of my four classroom walls, was the most rewarding experience of my teaching career. As Nesloney & Welcome state, “we want to break down the walls of our classrooms and become partners in the journey.” So many stakeholders in education are ready to help you!

Aside from gaining perspective and knowledge from many in my district, I’ve also been able to gain a worldly perspective from educators around the world. Twitter has been one of the greatest resources I have had in seeking new ideas, building/fostering relationships, and is a place of continuing support for me on my journey.

I know so often, we get overwhelmed with the job and may encounter the following (according to Nesloney & Welcome):

  • I don’t have the time.
  • The new technology is too confusing.
  • My district would never approve it.
  • I don’t really understand the value.
  • I’ve been doing fine for years; why change now?

My rebuttal is that fostering relationships and expanding knowledge out of your repertoire is worth it. Not only for you, but for your students. It takes time, it takes effort, but life is different than when we were students. We owe it to our students to give them the best instruction and environment to be successful. Just do it. I know you won’t regret it.

  1. Let everything we do, come back to kids.

Think about why you became a teacher?

I’m hoping your decision is similar to what Nesloney & Welcome said, “people choose education because they want to make a difference — to change lives and impart wisdom to future generations.”. I know my reason is very similar to that. I want students to have a prosperous and successful future. I want them to be able to be successful in the 21st century.

If you are in a rut. Go back to your initial answer. Then find a friend. Someone you can confide in, that will push you and encourage you to pursue your passion.

In you are still fighting the good fight. I encourage you to share out with others. Share your successes and setbacks. You never know who you may be encouraging.

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Remember, kids are the only reason we have our profession. They inspire us, motivate us and empower us. We in turn should do the same for them. They deserve to have the best future and we need to be the ones who pave the way for them. After all, kids deserve it.

It works, It works, It really works!

 

I could never imagined my classroom the way it exists now. About three years ago, my life, classroom and outlook on education changed. I attended my first CUE conference and I was in awe. I’ve also enjoyed technology, but never really understood the value that it holds in the world of education.

Upon recent interactions with some amazing teachers and technology guru’s I was introduced to HyperDocs. The organization, planning and interaction that HyperDocs initially provided through being explained to me, made me excited and a little nervous. Introducing anything new to high schoolers, is a little scary. Let’s be honest, they tell it like it is. So through some careful planning and an anxious heart, I started a HyperDoc unit on Genetics. Let’s just say…..WHOA!

Let’s just call it the ultimate game changer! It impacted my classroom in numerous ways, I’m going to highlight 5 ways in which it has transformed my classroom.

  1. Improved Attitudes

Ten years in a classroom can play mental games with you. Your outlook can look fuzzy, discouraging, and repetitive. This year I have 5 different classes, that I either am preparing lesson plans for or some kind of product. Along with that I’m in school to obtain my PASC for Administration. Let’s just say my brain and focus is spread thin. Wanting to incorporate some fun and a variety of lessons components in my classroom, I branched out and began to incorporate HyperDocs. My attitude began to shift, because although I’m swamped, it motivated me to reach a high caliber of instruction for my students.

As my students started with HyperDocs, they were a little apprehensive at first. They were a little weary, but since they are honors students, they were resilient. At first they somewhat enjoyed the process. As more units structured in HyperDocs continued their like turned to love. They thoroughly enjoyed using various programs throughout the process to showcase their work as well as reflect. I think for my honors students the SHARE part, was their favorite. They enjoyed viewing other students work and giving them feedback. Most students cringe at critique, but they thrived. Every project or assignment just got better and better.

  1. Improved Test Scores

At the end of the first major unit my students took a formative assessment. My students were actually the ones who told me, Miss Calderon, since we’ve been doing HyperDocs our test scores have increased. To my surprise, I looked into it.

Looking at their scores from pre-HyperDocs they averaged anywhere from 65-79%, post HyperDocs they averaged anywhere from 85% to 95%!!!!

Data seriously speaks volumes when it comes to the successfulness my students had with HyperDocs and retaining information.

HyperDocs are for all students -The HyperDoc Handbook

  1. Accountability

Students became more responsible for their learning. The individuality that HyperDocs provides for students through the first few steps (Engage, Explore, and Explain) really allow the student to gain understanding and knowledge on their own. They were able to go at their own pace and for those who struggled with the content were able to have one on one time with me or group discussions regarding matters they did not understand. This was vital! They knew that they needed to have subject matter comprehension before they could move ahead to the Apply component. In my use of HyperDocs, I created “deadlines” and times where assignments were due, so that way my students could share out and receive feedback. My students then had opportunities to correct mistakes they needed to, in order to receive a better grade.

  1. Implementing Growth Mindset…silently

For many of my students, they’ve grown up with Direct Instruction. Teachers often giving them answers as opposed to them finding it on their own. Also they’ve lived in a world where there is one answer as opposed to several. Really making my students understand these two concepts was hard. Many would express their frustrations in the beginning because it put more responsibility on them, than it did in our prior ways of learning.

Normally, their solution would be to give up. However, through coaching and encouragement I was able to get them to focus on a Growth Mindset rather than a Fixed Mindset. Many of them thrive at the opportunity to make themselves better. I am currently having my students create Animations using Slides. They are doing amazing with them and really enjoying the process. (I will share the success in another blog). It has been great hearing their dialogue. I continually hear, “hey how did you do that?” “That’s so cool, I want to do some cool things like that in mine” “Whoa, yours is better than mine, I’m going to fix mine?” “I’m going to start over, I want a fresh start”. Never before have I heard or had students so engaged in learning.

  1. Hidden Curriculum that benefits my Ss for the future

Being able to share out the tips and tricks that Google has to offer brings me so much joy. Many of my students have had Chromebooks at their disposal at a young age, however they are still learning various aspects of it. Being able to show them how to use extensions like ColorPick eyedropper, Screencastify and Side Screen has been enjoyable. Also, being able to teach them shortcuts and faster ways to complete a task is so rewarding. I always tell my students, I’m not only teaching you Biology, I’m teaching you life skills. Yesterday one student said, “We know, and we appreciate it”.