Sunday, May 28, 2017

Get Up! Leading with Two Feet on the Ground

Brett Favre is one of my favorite NFL quarterbacks of all time because of the way that he played the game. Favre was known to start big games with nervous jitters, making huge mistakes and missing open receivers; however, he was always a different person after the first big hit he would take. While some quarterbacks avoided hits, Favre would look for opportunities to take that first big hit! It would energize and inspire him.

Are You Taking Hits?

If we are honest, leadership is a lot like playing quarterback in the NFL. We don't always have the luxury of having a clean jersey and unbruised body at the end of the day. What often defines good quarterbacks from great ones is the ability to recover from a hit. Some quarterbacks avoid hits, while others look for them.  Every leader needs criticism, disappointment, and adversity to grow, but the real question is, how do you handle the hits you WILL take?

Get Up or Stay Down?

In a recent leadership interview, I was reminded that effective leaders are unfazed by difficulty. Instead, they change their perspective and become solution-oriented. How often do we get hit by a circumstance and allow it to change our demeanor or define our day?

One of the biggest reasons why I liked Brett Favre was because of his tough nature and energy. I admired the way no matter how hard he was hit; he would spring back up and not give his opponent the satisfaction of seeing the hit might have hurt. In fact, the harder he was hit, the quicker he would get up and the more animated he would become. You could never count him out because he never let his circumstances dictate his performance.

Get Up!

How about you? Do you let your circumstances dictate your response? Here are a few suggestions for jumping back up and not allowing adversity to gain the satisfaction of hitting you:


  • Take the hit and get up! Once adversity hits you,  take a moment to observe the challenge, gather your bearings, and get up! Get up and move on as quickly as possible because the longer you stay on the ground, the easier it is to give up. Leaders do not have time to wallow in self-pity because others are depending on you. 
  • Hit the Reset Button. We often see adversity as something bad; however, it can be a great opportunity hit the reset button. Adversity can provide us with valuable feedback and the opportunity to take a new approach. If plan A is no longer a viable option, abandon it and begin seeking out solutions to serve others.  The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of a man who embraced adversity. When he fell blind, he opened up his ears and allowed God to change his heart. It was in isolation and through adversity that he became an icon of what it means to follow Christ. 
  • Next Play. In his book Toughness: Developing True Strength on and Off the Court, Jay Bilas discusses the mentality that athletes need to adopt. If they make a mistake, they need to let go and concentrate on the "next play." Get up and focus on the next play. Live in this moment and learn from the past. We can't change our circumstances, but we can ask ourselves "what is great about this situation?" 
  • Always Protect Yourself. In the movie Million Dollar Baby, Franky, the main character played by Clint Eastwood, told his beloved female fighter the first rule of fighting, "always protect yourself." Although we cannot always protect ourselves from adversity, we can be on guard. What do I mean? Temptation often comes during our most difficult times. We need to be on guard in areas where we know that we are weak, especially during stressful times.  





Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Know Behind the No

Have you ever thought about the "know" behind a "no?" I know that it is a play on words, but sometimes we just cannot see that there are better things ahead. We are so blinded by disappointment and not getting our way, but things happen for a reason. We just may find out or know why at a later time.

A great example of this came from a story that a friend shared with me a few days ago. The story resonated with me because it made me ponder the meaning of life's difficult times.

A Man and His Message

A man was on his way to preach a message to a large audience in a foreign country. He could hardly contain his excitement at the opportunity to reach a large group of people.

Prior to his arrival, large tents were constructed and other preparations were made to the grounds. The day before the event, heavy rains hit the area and continued into the next day, prompting officials to cancel the event. The man left for home extremely disappointed, depleted, and depressed.

How often do we feel this way? There are times when we think we know what's best for our lives; however,  the twists and turns of life often have a way of furthering or preventing us from attaining what we think is best. We may even feel depleted and worthless, but the most difficult experiences are often the most valuable experiences.

What is Your No?

Several days later, the rain ceased and work crews began to clean up the grounds and take down the tents. Several workers noticed the wires of an explosive device protruding from the ground. The bomb was mean to kill participants of the event.

It suddenly became obvious to the man that he was being saved from disaster. How many times do we get angry and hurt when we are told no? We think that we know what's best for our lives, but life has a way of telling us otherwise.

All leaders have to learn to accept that there will be times when life says "no." It may be a missed opportunity or promotion, a broken relationship, a failed project, or a difficult situation. Have you ever considered that life may be protecting us from a disaster lying ahead? Perhaps, there is another opportunity ahead? You never "know" what is behind the "no."

Learn to see "no" as a good thing. Behind a "no" there is more to "know" and opportunities to "grow."



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kahoot! Cheat Sheet

I recently came across several educators who have not hand the chance to enjoy using Kahoot!  To help my colleagues, I developed the following Kahoot! Cheat Sheet.


Please feel free to share with others who want to learn how to use this valuable tool!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Transform your Presentations with Visme

Brain research is crystal clear. We need to find different ways to represent material to students. I am always looking for new ways to present information and came across Visme. It comes in both a free and paid version.


What is Visme? 

If you have never heard of Visme, it is a compelling and engaging presentation tool that may come in handy in your classroom. When you create a new Visme, you have the option of creating a presentation, infographic, banner, or custom presentation.


How Do I Use Visme?


Step 1: Create Your Visme

Once you create a free account, you can choose which type of presentation that you would like to create (i.e. Presentation, Infographic, Banner, or Blank).  When you decide what you would like to create, Visme provides you with a variety of templates to choose from.



Step 2: Create and Add Content

Once you have chosen what you want to create, you are now ready to begin adding content. Visme provides an easy-to-use platform for adding content, graphics, shapes, charts, data,
and multimedia. If you would like to add video or music, you can easily add them to your Visme presentation!



Step 3: Publish

When you are ready to share your Visme with the world, you can choose to publish. The free version provides you with the ability to publish to the web, share via social media, embed into a website / blog, or download as a JPG. The premium version  provides you with more options and tools, such as downloading as a PNG or PDF and making private. 



Why Use Visme?

Once you create a Visme presentation, it can be presented anywhere and on any device! No more need to carry a storage device! It is very similar to Google Slides in this respect. 

Visme provides you with powerful tools to give a presentation or communicate your ideas, statistical information, reports, or web content. The interface is engaging and interactive, which adds another dimension to your presentations. Plus your presentations can be downloaded or shared via a link or social media. 







Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Create Engaging Videos with Mysimpleshow

Mysimpleshow is a unique web-based platform to create engaging videos for your classroom! The platform is easy to use and provides you with helpful tutorials do design you first video.

Step 1: Draft

In the draft phase, you will create your storyline to frame your story. Mysimpleshow provides you with templates to create your own storyline or create your very own!

Step 2: Writing

Next, you will write your script in the form of chapters. If you don't like the structure, you can make revisions or additions. The text that you write is for the voice over appearing in your video.

Step 3: Visualize

Next, you will want to add visualizations to bring your script to life! Add visuals, text, or your own content to make your story come to life! Mysimpleshow looks for key words in your story and populates it with suggested images.

Step 4: Finalize

Finally, in the Finalize stage, you can make the final revisions to your video such as adding your own voice, adding a narrator's voice, and add close-captions to your video! Then publish your Mysimpleshow video and you will be notified by email when it is ready!




Conclusion:

Although there are several different paid versions, the free version has many helpful features that make creating your own video simple and engaging.  Want to see it in action? Check out the following link with example videos.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Practice Fluency with Math Fight

Math fluency is an important skill to master for elementary students. Teachers often use a variety of different tools and techniques to help students recall the answers to basic math facts automatically and without hesitation.
Math Fight is an iPad App, which helps students practice valuable math skills in a gamified and engaging way. The App is designed for two students to compete against one another to answer a series of questions the fastest and most accurate. As students answer questions correctly, they accumulate points.

The free version of Math Fight provides students with addition and subtraction practice. The Math Fight Pro version is $1.99 and provides students with multiplication and division practice. 

What are some of your favorite ways to practice math fluency? I would love to hear! Leave a comment below. 

There are NO Wasted Experiences


It is hard to believe that I am on month six of my leadership to interview 50 leaders in one year.  As of today, I have interviewed 29 different leaders. Although some are in business, others in education, and others in the non-profit sector, they share many different similarities and themes. 

There are no wasted experiences. 

Have you ever felt that you were wasting your time? I recently interviewed a leader, who reminded me of the simple fact that there are no wasted experiences. Every experience in life can be used to prepare you for the future.

Mark is a testament to this fact. At age 10, his younger brother drowned. His mother fell into a deep dark depression and was emotionally unavailable for the family for over a year. Instead of looking back on this experience through pessimistic eyes, he realized that this was an opportunity to learn how to take care of himself at an early age.

As an adult, Mark has dealt with the loss of his father, job loss, a series of disappointments and frustrations. All of his experiences inspired him to start a new business, which has blossomed into an organization that builds products and men. He is committed to mentoring and shaping the lives of the men that work in his organization.  Without the painful experiences, he may have never started a business that is impacting the lives of others in his community.

Conclusion

What about you? What experiences are challenging you emotionally, physically, and spiritually? What experiences make you want to quit or give up? It is often within the most difficult and painful situations, where we find our calling or purpose.

There are no wasted experiences. Every experience, whether good or bad, is an opportunity to grow and blossom into the person that you are supposed to be. This is easy to say and tough to do. Perhaps the diagnosis meant for bad will provide you with experiences to have empathy and help others. Maybe the job loss will inspire you to pursue a more rewarding career. The horrible boss that you have may inspire you to become a different kind of leader. The frustrating career may inspire you to go back to school or change direction.

Whether they are good or bad, don't waste your life experiences because they are yours. Your experiences and challenges are unique to you and your circumstances. They are the blueprint to your future and you never know what they will blossom into.







Monday, May 8, 2017

Clean Up Your Chrome Extensions with Extensity

I enjoy connecting with other educators on Google + because it gives you an opportunity to learn from your peers. I learned about Extensify after reading a recent question posed by one of our community members.

What is Extensity? 

Tired of having too many Chrome Extensions at the top of your screen? You may want to consider using the Extensity Chrome Extension to help you manage, enable, and disable all of your favorite Chrome Extensions with just a click of the mouse.

Why would you want to do this? 

  • Chrome Extensions may slow down the performance of your browser. Increase performance by shutting down the extensions that you don't need.
  • If you like to stay organized, Extensify can be a helpful tool to help clean up your browser. 


Extensity offers some excellent features. 
  • Turn off / on individual extensions 
  • Easily turn off / on ALL of your extensions with a click of a mouse
  • Access Google Apps too! 
  • Easily search for any of your apps and extensions
  • Use the profiles feature to group extensions by interest, such as shopping, school, etc. 
  • Manage or uninstall extensions with a click of a mouse


Anyone Can Now Use Google Classroom!

If you are a G Suite School, then you know the power of Google Classroom. It makes allocating resources, communicating events, and turning in assignments extremely easy!

Classroom just recently underwent a huge change! You can now create your own Google Classroom with your personal Google account! This is great news for teachers who want to build their own Classrooms for afterschool activities, professional development, communicating with parents, etc.

Simply visit classroom.google.com to create or join your very first class!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Master Your Chrome Tabs with OneTab!


Managing tabs is not only something that adults need to master, it is an essential skill that we can teach our students.

What is OneTab? 

The OneTab extension is a Chrome extension that can be used to quickly gather open tabs, reduce the amount of memory used, and convert your tabs into a list. Your list can be restored, shared, and organized.

How does it work? 

Check out my brief video to see how easy it is to use!



Why Use This?

OneTab is the perfect tool to automatically generate lists of links to share in a conference or a classroom. Why not save time and work smarter? OneTab gives you the ability to do both.