Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gmail: Organizing and Sorting (#edtech)

[Originally posted on the Appy Hour Blog]

Hey all. Here's the understatement of the week: we get a lot of email.

The issue I have with this near-constant barrage of information is how to sort and process it all. I have tried a number of methods and am always fine-tuning how I "use" my inbox (perhaps to my detriment).

David Allen wrote a book called Getting Things Done. In this book, he outlines a "process" to use to organize your life. Regarding email, he gives us the phrase "inbox zero" - meaning there are no new messages in your inbox. (Gasp!)

He does not say you need to be "done" with all of your emails; rather, he insists that you need to set time aside each day to "file" the barrage of emails into doable categories. Your inbox may be clear, but you have a series of other folders that contain your "next steps." These folders could be "Read and review," "Archives," "Do now," etc.

Fortunately, Gmail provides very flexible inbox solutions. You can modify how Gmail handles your incoming messages, possibly automating those daily, repetitive actions you take each day (i.e. you can file the Daily Announcements automatically in an "Announcements" folder so you can read them later).

Here are some links (from the Google Help Center) to help you along your path to getting things done (NB: GTD is the shortened version, typically appearing in phrases like "My Gmail GTD solution," should you care to Google it). You can view the main Gmail help page here (I've only highlighted a few of the many topics it covers).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Appy Hour Blog - "weekly" tech updates for the staff

I am serving as tech liaison for the second year in a row, and I am really trying to step up my game, so to speak. I started using appointment slots on Google calendar so staff and/or students can reserve Tech Help time. And, since I have a flex-schedule, I teach "period 9." So my tech-spiration for the year: a weekly opportunity for staff to get free PD. So began Appy Hour - from 2-3 on Fridays.

We're only a few weeks in, but I've held workshops on our SMS, eSchoolData, and blasted out reference material for Google apps. This week, I plan to offer a gmail workshop. Attendance has been low, but I love the idea of being able to share good practices (not sure if they qualify for best yet). I also love being able to be there for staff - if we plan to push edtech tools like GAFE, we need to model those practical uses. We need to be the mentor to our colleagues, much like we are with our students.

I an including these weekly professional development opportunities as part of my Google Certified Trainer application.

I also plan to cross-post on both blogs, in the hopes that the posts will reach a wider audience.

Here is the Appy Hour blog page... feel free to peruse my site and leave feedback (anywhere) - I've been working hard on it and would love to see where I can improve.

Keep on tech-ing.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My #edtech palette to start the year

I think I finally got a handle on how I intend to begin this year in terms of my core educational technology.

I am quickly falling love with how much power this free website creator has. I was drawn to the site because of the blog page capability and the RSS feed - I still need to play with how I can "hack" (i.e. customize) my way through things. Favorite inspirational moment: placing 5 RSS feeds of world newspapers side by side for an at-a-glance look at world headlines.

Common Curriculum
For lesson planning. They made some major upgrades to their software offerings. My two faves: linking individual lessons to unit plans, and the ability to insert a file from Google Drive. Put that together with the ability to display your plans as a webpage (and link it to Weebly), and you have a powerful moment of transparency and accessibility to your teaching.

Google Apps
We are a GAFE district, and I am enjoying my life in the cloud. The ability to share breaks down so many borders; I am no longer the broker of information... now I can share in the learning with the kids. New ideas for this year: use a student info form to collect student info (obvious), and to make student folders for eventual online submission, and add them to a class contact list (to make it all the more easier to share more things with them).

My new find for the summer: I no longer feel the need to try to code this functionality - the folks over at Socrative have done it. I plan to use this for all my objective w quizzes this year. It allows students to answer with their devices (we are a BYOT district), gives them instant feedback, and can generate a score report that gets emailed to you. Solid.

I think that's my base for the year. And I'm pretty damn excited about it. Yeah!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Google guffaws (#edtech #GAFE)

So...I get to serve as tech liaison again this year, so I decided to use google calendar's appointment slots to set up tech appointments. Admin asked me to speak for five minutes at the first faculty meeting to explain some of the tech, etc. 

So...I get up to do my spiel, I click the link for my calendar to show staff how to reserve a slot, and I see my tech help slots in gray. 

And then, in pink, we all see my AP's calendar events. Soccer practice, nail appointments, etc. She jumps up shouting "that's my calendar!" And runs to hide the browser window, and we all got a good laugh. No harm, no foul. 

But a word to the future: if someone is
logged in with their account...

Happy back to school everyone!