Friday, August 11, 2017

3 New Google Classroom Features to Start the School Year

With the new school year starting, many teachers are eager to use Google Classroom. Here are 3 new features to start the school year.

1 - Single View of Student Work

Students now have a page called "Your Work," which lists all assigned, missing, returned and graded work. This is a great tool to help students stay organized. How do students view this feature? 
  • Open up a class in Google Classroom
  • Click or tap on the "About" tab
  • Click or tap on "Your Work"

2 - Display Your Class Code in Full Screen
One of the first challenges with Google Classroom is getting students enrolled in your class. If you remember, they will need a class code to join (this is a one time thing!). Google Classroom now lets you display the code in fullscreen, which makes it much easier for students to see. This feature is only available for teachers! 

How do you do this? 
  • You will need to make sure that you are in the web-version of Google Classroom. 
  • Visit the Students Tab
  • On the left-side of your screen, you will see the class code. Choose the dropdown arrow next to your class code and select "Display Code." 


3 - New Organization Features!

Google realizes that organization is essential for teachers. Google Classroom now has features to help you organize your classes and gradebook.

A. Whether you are a teacher or student, you can customize the order of your class cards and reorder your home page.

B. Teachers now have the ability to add decimals to grades! 

C. Teachers can transfer ownership of classes to other teachers! 

D. If you need to access other Apps while you are in Google Classroom, you have the ability to choose the Apps Launcher (Google Bar) or sometimes called "waffle" to access other apps. 




Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Leadership Journey: 3 Ways to Reject Rejection

As of August 2017, I have interviewed 40 different leaders. Most of the leaders that I have interviewed have experienced rejection. Many have experienced rejection so painful that it has brought back tears many years later. Unfortunately, leaders must experience rejection to grow and expand their abilities.

Changing Our Views on Rejection

In his book Rejection Proof, Jia Jiang discusses the idea that rejection is merely a human opinion. Rejection is painful and something that everyone experiences and can take many different shapes. Whether it is being passed up for an opportunity, not holding value in another's eyes, it can have lasting effects on our lives.

Many people are unable to let go of their rejections, which severely limits their potential. What if we were to change our thoughts on rejection? What if we were to see rejection as an opportunity? It could change the way we live our lives. How we handle rejection makes all of the difference because it has a lasting effect on our lives, leadership abilities, and legacy. Here are some tips to reject rejection and reach your full potential.

1 - Change How You Look at Rejection

Imagine yourself as a piece of driftwood tossing along waves of rejection that push and pull you to your destination. You have no control over the waves and where they may take you; however, your journey will season and prepare you for your eventual destination. Your rejections are preparing you for your destination! Be patient because you will have an opportunity someday.

2 - Embrace the Detour

Many of us view rejection as a barrier; however, there are times when rejection serves as a detour. Several years ago, I was told that I did not have leadership potential and I would never make it as a principal. I am thankful for that experience because it helped me see that I was not passionate about handling discipline problems. I was passionate about educational technology. The rejection propelled me into creating this blog, sharing ideas with colleagues, and focusing my attentions on becoming a top-notch educator.

3 - Be Thankful for Your Rejections

It may sound weird, but I am learning to be thankful for my rejections. Unfortunately, our talents and abilities are not always appreciated and recognized by others. Instead of stewing in what people "should" think of you, why not give thanks for other opportunities?

In a previous post, I had mentioned that I have been overlooked for leadership positions within my organization; however, I am thankful for the rejection. Why? Instead of having to leave my job to gain valuable leadership experiences, I have the opportunity to serve as a consultant schools, colleges, and universities across the country and serve as a faculty member at Harvard University for two summers. The opportunities have provided me with valuable experiences that will someday hold value in another's eyes.

Conclusion

Just like a piece of driftwood eventually reaches the shore, you too will reach your destination. You will reach a destination where you are valued, respected, and appreciated. You have an incredible opportunity to change the way that you look at rejection. You are blessed with the gift of time, which will season your abilities and add to your experiences. The rejections that you face from others will help refine your passions and possibly detour your God-given destination. Be thankful for your rejections, because how you view rejection has the power to make or break you.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Leadership Journey: The Secret of Cutting Through Rock with Water

My recent journey to interview 50 leaders in a year has taught me the power of persistence. One of my mentors has been extremely helpful in getting me in contact with some great leaders. Many of these individuals have busy schedules and other priories, which makes scheduling interviews very difficult.

Most of the leaders whom I have interviewed have graciously invested their time in my journey. One leader in particular was very difficult to reach. Every time that I contacted this leader, they would tell me to call back later because they were too busy. I contacted this individual three different times. Finally my persistence paid off with an interview.

Although this individual was very difficult to work with, they taught me a valuable lesson. Leaders who are persistent are very effective. Why? They practice follow through, efficiency, practice accountability, and are very goal-oriented.

Persistence requires strength and courage because it often means facing fear and resistance. Persistence develops character, strength, and confidence in people who do not quit when others do. Some of the greatest feats known to man have occurred through the blood, sweat, and tears of persistent individuals.

An excellent visual for the power of persistence is found in the following quote:


Can you imagine if water did not contain the element of persistence? The Grand Canyon would never exist.

What about you? What rocks do you need to cut through? Whether calling customer service for support or trying to improve your abilities, I encourage you to be persistent.  Your persistence will cut through the rocks of negativity, stagnation, and limitation.




Saturday, July 22, 2017

BibMe Makes Bibliographies Easy



If you or your students write papers, then you know that creating citations and references are extremely important. I have always loved Citation Machine, but I just found a new tool that I really like. It is called Bib Me.

Although it has been around for some time, I recently found it. I like it for several reasons. First, it has a very simplistic interface, which makes creating a bibliography extremely useful.

For example, you can just copy and paste the URL, title, or ISBN of your resource and EasyBib can generate a bibliography. If you have more sources to add, you can keep adding to it and then download!



Secondly, the source has a variety of tools to help with the writing process. For example, Bib Me has citation guides to help with citing a specific type of resource. Bib Me also has a plagiarism checker and tutorials.

Finally, it is free! You don't have to jump through hoops to use it, such as watching videos or only being able to generate a limited number of citations.

If you are currently enrolled in school or have students who are constantly writing!


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.