Social Media for Professional Growth

Anyone who knows me knows that I find a lot of value in Twitter. It has been my go-to source for connecting me with inspiring educators around the globe. I have learned from and with technologists in Australia, education department officials in Israel, design thinking teachers in Scotland, teachers and administrators across the North America, mentored student PBL groups in Oklahoma, and even discussed the State of the Union live with students from Philadelphia. Twitter is simply a powerful tool for learning.

WOISD staff have used Twitter to connect their students with authors, politicians, experts in other fields, and even a Holocaust survivor. Their lives have been changed and their learning improved because of a social media tool.

This video gives a quick testimonial on how one school district uses Twitter to make a difference in their classrooms. If you want to get started on Twitter, shoot me a note. If you start this school year modeling for our students how to utilize social media as a learner, you are helping them develop a valuable, lifelong skill.

Keeping Students Informed

We all know the feeling. The students show up to class, you tell them to put away everything but a pencil because it’s test time, and they groan and announce they knew nothing about the test. Right.

Your students have Google accounts. Why not add those major events to your Google Calendar and “invite” the students. This gives you two more points of documentation of the event: it sends them an email telling them it’s been added, and it adds it to their school Google Calendar. Add to the fact it’s probably on your blog in lesson plans and has been announced repeatedly in class, and you’ve covered more ground than anyone would expect.

If you create Groups in your mail Contact list ahead of time (learn how HERE), this process is made even more simple than it already is. You’d just type the name of the Group and the entire list is populated automatically.

Let the Google Gooru walk you through how easy it is to keep your students informed of major events using Google Calendar.

Common Planning Time Assistance

There always seems to be the need to meet with your team, and you end up standing in the hall between classes trying to find who is available when. Well, let Google Calendar do the work for you with the Find Available Time option. If your team keeps their calendars up to date, this will save you loads of time. Let the Google Gooru walk you through the steps.

Creating Appointment Slots on Your Google Calendar

This is a great, short tutorial from the Google Gooru on creating appointment time slots on your Google Calendar. Keep in mind, you have to be in either Week or Day view so you can select the time slots you want in order for Appointments option to be available. Also, Those picking slots have to have Google accounts themselves since it will automatically collect their name for you.

This would be excellent for any number of classroom or school based functions:

  • reserving a time slot for writer’s conference with teacher
  • reserving device cart
  • reserving computer lab
  • reserving ThinkLab (our innovative learning space)
  • tutoring or extra help
  • PBL presentation sign-up
  • and more!

History in Video

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Looking for some historical media to make a lesson pop? Or maybe you’re trying to find the right piece to begin that Socratic conversation with your students? Regardless, PBS comes through for you. Check out Newseum Digital Classroom where PBS has compiled a large collection of videos with summaries, essential questions, and links to continue further inquiry work on the subject. Great stuff. Don’t miss out.

Geddit! Got it?

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 4.45.24 PMFormative assessment plays perhaps the most important role in monitoring our students’ progress. Summative assessmentonly tells us what they didn’t get. That’s too late. Formative tells us what they DON’T get. That’s just in time.  It’s always nice to know what our students are thinking when we’re working through a lesson, but it’s not easily done. Until now, that is.

LetsGeddit was created by teachers for the sole purpose of diagnosing understanding issues on the spot during instruction. The great thing about the product is that it works with any web enabled device (smartphone, iPod, iPad, Chromebook, laptop, etc). And it’s pretty simple to utilize, too. If you are using Chromebooks, it is already loaded as an app once the student logs in with their school email account. Any other device just needs the student to go to and start from there.

Basically, you use it as a quick quiz tool, a climate tool, or even an exit ticket. The built in private hand raising and note sharing tools allows even your quietest students a chance to have a voice with you during the instruction without fear of ridicule or embarrassment. They can rate their level of understanding through an easy to use bar system or they can even add a note asking for more help with the concept. This is a great way to differentiate your instruction on the fly.

The kids can join the class with a Class Code you give them, and they create their accounts using their Google Apps information. Very easy to do, and only takes a minute at most. Watch the videos below to become familiar with the tool and decide if it’s for you. Let me know if you want help setting it up for your classroom. I’m confident when you see the value of the data it shares through the formative assessments, you will want to start using it that first week of school. Be sure to Follow GedditHQ on Twitter. They’re always happy to answer your questions about what their tool can do for your students.

Great Intro

Excellent How-To Get Started

Geddit – Teacher’s first experience (Shows a little about the reposts/data are viewed)

Add a Timer to Your Blog

There are times you could use a timer that’s easy to use and easy to find. So, why not put it as a widget on your blog. You can add one to your blog by following these steps.

1. Go here to find the timer.

2. Click on the gear icon in the bottom left of the timer window to go to the settings for the timer. Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 7.58.32 PM

3. Highlight and copy the embed code given in the new window. Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.00.15 PM

4. Go to the Dashboard of your blog.

5. Click on Appearance in the lefthand menu. Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.03.14 PM

6. Click on Widgets in the lefthand menu.Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.03.28 PM

7. Make sure you can see the widgets already in your Sidebar. You do this by making sure the arrow to the right of your Sidebar name is pointing up (just click on it). Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.04.41 PM

8. Drag a Text Widget from the left side list into the now expanded Sidebar on the right. Drag it up and down in the list to place it in the order you want it. Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.07.20 PM

9. Paste the code you copied earlier into the big box of the new Text widget.Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.08.07 PM

10. To make sure the new timer fits inside the sidebar of your blog, we need to make it a little smaller. You do that by changing the width and height numbers in the code you just pasted. Basically, cut them in half. Change the “468” to “234” and the “420” to “210” to make it small enough.

11. Now, hit the Save button below the box you just pasted the code into.

12. Enjoy the new timer on your blog. You can change the time on it by clicking the minute or second digit you would like to change. Also, this timer has some predetermined times with music to go with it. Just use the dropdown box above the timer numbers and select the appropriate time/song.




Cleaning Up YouTube

NOTE: The post below was from an email that Jacovia Cartwright sent out. It’s a great tool that I thought was worth sharing here. Thanks for letting me repost this, Jacovia.

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In our lessons we sometimes use YouTube as a resource. YouTube is great, but the most annoying thing about YouTube is that it comes with ads on most videos. The ad’s are at times not that bad, especially since you can skip some of them within 5 seconds. Then there are the ads that require you to watch the whole 2 minute clip and at times can be inappropriate for the students to see. This might be an issue you are facing daily and I thought I would offer a little assistance with working around the ads.

My favorite process is using “SafeShare”

The website is “


1. Open safeshare in one tab and in a different tab find the video that you want to show on youtube.
2. Once you are playing the Youtube video you want, copy the URL either from clicking the share button under the youtube video, or copying from the URL bar at the top.
3. Once it’s copied go to the safeshare tab and paste the URL in the blank space that reads “Paste a YouTube Link”.
4.Then click the green Generate button. You will then see a link that says “take me to the safe view”. Click that link and you’re all set with an ad free video.

If you see a low quality video make sure that you have clicked the gear icon on the bottom right so the video shows in the highest quality possible. I have included a screenshot of the page below as a reference to make sure you are on the correct website. You won’t be able to click the image on this email to see the video I used. Here is a link to the safeshare video that I used for this process.

There are other options out there like chrome browser plugins and a service called ViewPure. I have found that the safeshare process has been the most consistent for me and I have not had any issues like the others that I’ve tried. I hope this helps you out in some way with your lessons.