Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Develop Executive Functioning Skills with Habitica

Many of our students struggling with executive functioning skills, such as planning, organizing, emotional control, and task management. There are a variety of techniques and tools to help students with this challenge. I was recently made aware of a free iOS and Android App called Habitica, which takes a gamified approach to task management.

Why use Habitica?

Habitica takes a gamified approach, where you build the health of an avatar through your performance. There are several different tasks, which can help you form positive habits. Your habits influence your experience points and health of your avatar.

The App provides a To-Do section, where you can set tasks and due dates. Every time that you complete a task, you are provide experience points, which impact the health of your avatar.

The Dailies section is for time-sensitive tasks, which need to be one on a regular schedule.

The Habits section provides you with tools to build positive habits or improve negative habits. Every time that you do a habit, you can tap a plus sign to award yourself with gold or a minus sign to take it away.

Items to Note

Habitica does require a login, which may pose challenges for students under the age of 13. You can link your Google or Facebook account to it. Habitica is free with limited features, but does offer a paid subscription with more features.

What are your favorite tools for executive functioning? Leave a comment below!

Monday, September 18, 2017

5 Ideas for Using Google Slides as a Portfolio

I work with many talented teachers, who use technology in creative and innovative ways. With the increased emphasis on Project-Based Learning (PBL) and standards mastery, it is important to help students find creative ways to showcase what they have learned. A portfolio may be a viable option for students to show progress and growth throughout the year. Many teachers turn to website programs (i.e., Google Sites, Weebly, Wix, etc.), Apps like SeeSaw, and web tools like LiveBinders.

Although they are good tools, it can be tricky to navigate privacy agreements and the skillsets of students under the age of 13. One of our teachers has created a portfolio using Google Slides! How might this work in your classroom? Here are some ideas:

1. Create a Google Slide Template for All of Your Students

Create a Google Slide Show template for students, including spaces for their name, goals, likes, dislikes, pieces of work, standards they have mastered, etc. Make it colorful and customizable, but also provide a basic structure too!

2. Show What They Know in Different Ways

The beauty of G Suite is that it provides students with different vehicles for showcasing knowledge. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Students can take a picture of an image, import it into Google Drawings, and add labels. 
  • Share a writing piece from Google Docs with a link
  • Showcase the different steps of an experiment by uploading images to your presentation
  • Record yourself reading text, upload it to Google Drive, and share the link. Add another recording several weeks or months later to show growth. 

3. Make a Copy of Your Template for Each Student

Placing your Google Slides template on Google Classroom is a good way to manage workflow and create a copy for each student.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to use Classroom. If you would like to force students to make a copy of any Google Doc, Slide, Sheet, etc., just use this simple trick. 

4. Have Students Present Their Portfolios

Have students present their portfolios several times throughout the year, as a way to review content, showcase knowledge, and demonstrate growth. Whether it is sharing with a partner, small group, or in a teacher conference, students need opportunities to share what they have learned.

5. Use it as a Study Guide

The teacher that I had mentioned earlier uses this as a tool to get ready for state testing. It is a great way for students to reflect on what they have learned, see how things fit together and have the confidence that they have mastered a particular concept.


Do you have any other creative ways of using Google Slides? I'd love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Create Your Own Teacher Games for Students with Smart Lab

If you are a Smart Notebook user, then you might have seen the Smart Labs feature. Smart Labs allows teachers to create your own customized interactive games for students to play on their SmartBoard or on a device. How does it work? Check out my video below:

Friday, September 8, 2017

Start with a Journey from Recap

Recap is an excellent tool for pre and post-assessments. If you want more information about Recap, please see my blog post.  The Start with a Journey is another great feature for students to use.

What is the Start With a Journey feature? 

The Start With a Journey feature is a pre-made storyline built around a topic of your choice. You can create your own journey or browse journeys made by other educators.

How Do I Use Start With a Journey?

Creating a journey is very easy!

  • First, you will want to login to Recap, create a Queue, and then click on "Start With a Journey." 

  • Next, you will want to choose "Create a Journey"

  • Then, create a guiding question and video introduction for your students. This guiding question can be used to help students understand the purpose for learning the content. 

  • Next, add your step by step instructions. You can add text and links for students to access content. Many teachers use links to share videos, have students take quizzes via Google Forms, or simply read an article. I like the fact that students can check off when they have completed a step. This is a great tool for increasing student accountability. 


There are many reasons why I like this feature. First, if you are not familiar with Journeys, you can access another educator's. It is a great way to learn! Second, I like the fact that students can check off each step that they have completed. This is a great tool for accountability and organization. Finally, this is a great way to provide students with structured online activities. Whether you are in a 1:1 environment, hybrid learning environment, or have students participating in stations, it is a great tool for learning.

Friday, August 25, 2017

3 Tips to Make Navigation Easy in a Google Doc

Navigating through Google Docs can be easy or a challenge for students and adults alike. Here are three different ways to quickly navigate and access resources in a Google Doc.

1. Use Bookmarks

You can bookmark different parts of your document to hyperlink to. A bookmark is simply a placeholder in a document. You can hyperlink to this placeholder in just a few steps. How does this work?

  • First, create your Bookmark by highlight the text that you want to hyperlink to, choose the Insert Menu, and select Bookmark. A Bookmark icon will appear in the column of your Doc. 

  • Next, think about where you will need to create a hyperlink, which will take you to this bookmark. Simply highlight your text, choose hyperlinks and click on "Bookmarks." 

2. Create a Table of Contents

You can create a Table of Contents in Google Docs to hyperlink to different parts of your document. You need to make sure that the text that you want to appear in your table of contents is in Heading 1, 2, 3, etc. format.

Check out my blog post or video below for more information!

3. Use the Outline Feature

The outline view is a great feature to help anyone navigate your document. It provides you with a panel (in the left-margin of your screen) listing all of the headings appearing in your document. Click on any heading in this panel and you will automatically be hyperlinked to that section in your document. This is a great way to navigate long documents. Only text in the Heading format will appear in your room. How can you turn this feature on? Visit the Tools menu and select Document Outline. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Create Your Own Google Custom Search Engine!

Do you have your students search for information on the Internet? Many educators have their students filter through thousands of resources to find information, yet many students still cite Wikipedia as a primary source.

Creating a Google Custom Search (GCS) engine may be a good strategy to scaffold the research process for students who struggle with finding information. A GCS creates your own Google search engine, searching through only the websites you provide. For instance, if you require students to search through CNN, Fox, and CNBC's website, your search engine will only search through these websites. No Wikipedia!

How do you do this? 

Simply visit Google Custom Search and sign in with your Google account.

Next, click "Add" and begin adding the sites you would like in your search engine.

Then, hit "Create" at the bottom of your page and give your search engine a name!

Finally, get the code to embed on your class website or get the public URL to share the link with your students.


This is the perfect resource for providing students with scaffolding for research. The best part, is that you can continue to add to the search engine throughout the year.

 Happy searching!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

3 Easy Steps to Go to Section Upon Answer in Google Forms

There are many great features in Google Forms. Going to a page based on an answer is one of my favorites. This is the perfect way to differentiate assignments, review correct and incorrect answers, and more! How do you use this valuable feature? Let me show you how!

Step 1: Create Your Form

Visit Google Forms and create your first question. In order to go to a page based on an answer, I recommend creating a multiple choice question.

Step 2: Create a New Section 

In order to go to a "page based on answer," you will need to create a "section" to redirect your audience. In this example, I will create one section, which will be used to help my correct my audience and help them understand the correct answer to my question.

How do you do this? Simply use the toolbar on the right-side of your screen and choose "Add Section" (icon with two rectangles).

When you create this new section, you will probably want to name it something that you will remember. It may be helpful to add text, videos, pictures, and / or links to help get your point across.

Step 3: Set-up "Go to Section Upon Answer"

Select your original multiple choice question. In the bottom right-hand corner, you will notice three dots. Click on the three dots and choose "Go to Section Upon Answer."

You will notice that a drop-down box appears next to each multiple choice question. You can select a section where your students will go based upon their answer.


This is the perfect tool for helping students learn from their mistakes, differentiating assignments, etc. You can get very creative with how you use this awesome feature! Need a video tutorial to learn how to do this? Check out my video below:

My Leadership Journey: A Simple Thought in a Complicated World

I am not a politician, nor do I enjoy politics; however, several recent events occurring in our country have saddened me. The actions in Charlottesville, Virginia last week are contrary to the vision of the many great leaders in our country. Unfortunately, the actions in Virginia revealed an undercurrent of tension that has existed in not only our country - but our world - for quite some time.

It saddens me that we value or devalue human worth, based upon the superficial characteristics of gender, race, religion, culture, and sexual orientation - to say a few. We are all humans. We all have value. Perhaps, our nation, our world, and our leaders need to look at life through the eyes of our children.

Although I have been a secondary teacher most of my career, I have recently been given the privilege of working at an elementary school. The children have taught me so much about leadership and what it means to be an effective leader.

When I look through the eyes of our students, I see what life is all about:

  • I see students who are willing to sacrifice and share with another person because the other person does not have food, drink, or even a crayons.
  • I see diverse groups of children befriending and playing with each other on a playground.
  • I see best-friends who look, act, and come from entirely different backgrounds. 
  • I see smiles and wonder.
  • I hear encouraging words between students of different genders and races.
  • I hear the words "I am sorry" when someone is wrong.
  • I feel the embrace of a child, who wants to show that they care.
  • I feel the definition of true love. 
When I look into the eyes of our students and my own children, I am encouraged that love still exists. I am still encouraged that children see value in others beyond the superficial definitions of human value or devalue - mostly created by adults. 

Regardless of your stance, perhaps you may agree that we all need to take a step back for a moment and see the world through our children's eyes.  Perhaps we would see that we may need to change our actions, words, and thoughts. Perhaps, we may even need to change how we value others. 

It's just a thought - a very simple thought - in such a noisy and complicated world. 

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.


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. 

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.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Solidify Learning with The Interactive Periodic Table of Elements

If you are a seasoned teacher, then you have heard the infamous question "when am I ever going to use this?"

In my opinion, students should be asking this question. It is often our job to provide students with authentic and real-life examples. The Interactive Periodic Table by Keith Enevoldsen is an excellent example of a tool that is both engaging and authentic.

Just click on each element to see interactive components, such as a visual, real-life examples, facts, and terminology associated with the element. This interactive tool is a great way to represent content differently. Click this link to check out the Interactive Periodic Table. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Use Spiral to Assess Students on a Whole New Level

It always amazes me how classroom technologies are changing the instructional process. There are a variety of tools available to teachers to help students understand and interact with content, provide timely feedback, and engage students differently. If you are a fan of NearPod, then you will love a similar tool called Spiral.

Spiral is a powerful formative assessment tool, which is very similar to programs like NearPod and Socrative. Teachers can create a free account on Spiral's website. You can link your social media or Google account to Spiral. Students need to visit gospiral.ac, join your class through a code, and provide their name.

Once you login to Spiral, you will be able to access your dashboard with a variety of options:

  • Quickfire - the perfect way to ask a question on the fly. For example, if you asked a verbal question, you can have your students respond in an open-ended way. You can mark the response correct or have students improve their response! 

  • Discuss - allows you to present a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation in an interactive way.  Students can see a slide and answer pre-generated questions about the contents. This is a great way to see how students are understanding the information. 
  • Team Up - is a unique collaborative feature. Spiral pairs up students to work together to create a presentation using Spiral. Students can then present information to the class from the site. 
  • Clip - allows you to create a new level of interaction with video clips that you use in your class. Students can respond to multiple choice or open-ended questions at various points in the video clip. 

What I Like!

There are a variety of features that I like about Spiral: 
  • I like the fact that you can have students improve or resubmit their response. This is something that has been lacking in other formative assessment tools. 
  • You can manually mark responses as right. This is a great way for checking for understanding. 
  • Teachers can see how long it took a student to respond to the question.
  • Spiral even groups similar answers together to make it easier to organize student responses. 
  • The Discuss interface makes seeing content and responding to questions seamless. 
  • You can make videos interactive! Students can answer questions and make comments throughout the video clip. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

You Don't Get to Complain

Summer is here, but my leadership journey has not stopped. As of June 23, 2017, I have interviewed 32 different leaders from a variety of organizations and positions, from CEO's to school administrators - even a Catholic priest! I have learned a tremendous amount of information and have started the process of applying the lessons to my life.

You Don't Get to Complain

Sharon, an outspoken former Vice President of HR, had a unique leadership philosophy. She stated "you don't get to complain unless you have a plan to follow up." In other words, you don't have the right to complain, unless you have a solution to offer.

How often do you complain? Several years ago, I read a book by Jon Gordon titled The No Complaining Rule. The premise behind the book is that we waste time, energy and spirit by complaining. When we are bogged down by the negativity that complaining generates, we cannot have a positive impact on our lives or the lives of others.

This does not mean that there is no room for challenging ideas or beliefs. On the contrary, leaders must stand up and productively challenge ideas with viable alternatives. In turn, our solution-oriented nature becomes a force of major attraction to others. Why? People are naturally drawn to leaders who are solution-oriented and welcome challenges.

Curbing the Complaints

Unfortunately, complaining has been a major weakness of mine over the years. It has been the glass ceiling of my leadership journey. I have complained, grumbled, and pouted, but have often failed to offer alternatives or solutions. Are you like me? Then, how can we curb the complaints and become a more productive leader? Here are some insights from my interviews:

  • Develop a solution-oriented mindset. Solve problems, don't create them with a poor attitude, brash comment, negative body language, or distracting behavior. 
  • Avoid the trap! Complaining often fuels gossip, stretches the truth, and warps your reputation. Avoid the trap of airing your complaints to the wrong person, in the wrong venue, or without a viable solution. 
  • Use the power of questions. Questions are often a leader's best tool because they shed light on the purpose behind words, decisions, and behaviors. Effective leaders use questions as a mechanism to guide others towards solving their own problems. 
  • Find the lesson behind the challenge. There is a lesson behind any challenge. How can you use this to prepare you for future decisions and action? 
  • Develop a Support Network. Everyone does need to vent from time to time;  however, we often forget to limit our venting to a trusted support network. We don't need to share everything with everyone. As one leader put it, "just because you have a thought, doesn't mean you have to express it." Use your support network to get it out, focus on the things you can control, and then let what you can't control. 
  • Exercise the 24 hour rule. A friend of mine introduced me to the 24 hour rule. You are allowed to be as upset as you want for exactly one day. Vent to your support network. Have a bad attitude or throw a temper tantrum in private. After 24 hours, you need to move on and let go of what you can't control.
  • You are responsible for you. I recently heard a speaker suggest, "People have a lot of problems. Why make them yours?" It is a good reminder that you are responsible for you. In other words, you are responsible for your actions, words, behaviors, and attitude. It's not to say that you shouldn't be concerned about other people; however, you need to realize that you cannot solve everyone's problems. You are only responsible to yourself and your responsibilities. 

Sharon taught me a valuable lesson. Leaders do not have the right to complain. Instead, effective leaders must be solution-oriented and avoid the trap of gossip. They must use the power of questions to influence and shed light on problematic areas. They realize that problems are nothing out of the ordinary. Instead, they try to view the lesson behind the challenge.

For more information on my 50 Leaders in One Year Journey, please visit the following link.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Change the Way Students Ask Questions with ClassroomQ

How many times have you been bombarded with a sea of full of student hands and had no idea where to start? It can be difficult to answer all of your student's questions in a timely manner. A friend of mine, created a new website called ClassroomQ to address this dilemma.  Here is how the site works.

Step 1: Create an Account

First, you will want to visit ClassroomQ and create a free teacher account.

Step 2: Start Your Session

Next, you will want to start your first Classroom Q session. As a teacher, you can customize whether you want a sound to play or student comments to appear in your message queue.

Step 3: Have Your Students Join! 

No need to worry about creating student accounts! Students will enter in a pin to join your session, very much like Kahoot, NearPod, etc.

Step 4: Have Your Students Ask Questions! 

Finally, you are ready to answer student questions. Students will use ClassroomQ to raise their hand and add a question or comment in the comments section. Questions will appear in the order they were received in your queue. No need to choose who goes first, second, third, etc.

Step 5: Check it Off 

As a teacher, you can go around the room and respond to student needs in the order they were received. When you are finished, simply click on the student's name and the question is checked off your list. The next question will appear on your list.


I really love this tool because it gives all students the opportunity to ask questions in realtime. It eliminates the barriers that many shy students face. They can ask a question without fear of embarrassment. It eliminates the conflict that arises when you are bombarded with questions and don't know where to start.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Self-Paced Spelling Quizzes with Google Forms

I recently received an interesting question from you all about Google Forms. How can you create a self-paced spelling quiz on Google Forms?

I was excited to give this a try, so I enlisted the help of Google Forms, Vocaroo, and Flubaroo. Enjoy!

Not only could this be used in the elementary classroom, it may prove helpful in the foreign language classroom.

I always enjoy getting questions from my readers. Feel free to leave a comment below! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Create Amazing Videos with Toontastic 3D

Toontastic is even more amazing than before with Toontastic 3D. The company is now owned by Google and offers engaging ways to tell your stories on iOS and Android devices.

How does it Work? 

First, you will want to design your 3D character by using your photo or drawing your own. The animations are absolutely animation.

Next, you will begin plotting your story. How will it begin? Where is the climax? How will it end? Toontastic gives you the tools to create an amazing story!

Then, the fun begins! You can bring your characters to life through animations, narration, and creating a soundtrack.

Finally, you can easily export your video without the need for an account.


Toontasic 3D is a great tool for creating innovative and engaging videos on any device. Whether you have WiFi or none at all, you have the ability to work offline and easily export your videos. The App is free and available to download with no advertisements or in-app purchases!