Saturday, September 24, 2016

Google - Force Users to "Make a Copy"



I often make presentations and want to share my resources with teachers. I tend to put a lot of speaker notes on my google slides and I wanted the participants to have access to them but I didn't want them edit my original document. In the past I just put a STOP slide first and gave instructions on how to make a copy so they didn't unintentionally write over the master document.

At a conference I was at this summer a teacher said there was a way to force users to make a copy. After a short internet search I came across this blog post - force users to make a copy of a Google doc on a website called Shake Up Learning. It was exactly what I needed!

As an added bonus..the blog is really good and focuses on all things Google in education (I would definitely recommend following or subscribing). I also follow the owner Kasey Bell on twitter as well @shakeuplearning.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Art and Craft of Selling in a Teacher Marketplace



On my radar this year is putting together work to sell in teacher marketplaces. I tried it “back in the day” when Teachers Pay Teachers were turning out millionaires like Deanna Jump.

In my exploratory phase (July 2012) I made an account and put up eight items (five free items and three paid items) with the last thing posted being (July 2014) – as you can see I haven’t really tackled it in a while (and I will go into the reasons why). My total earnings for my three paid items have been to date: $618.

Most of my items have to do with science notebooking in one way or another.

I gave up, or put it on hold in 2014, for several reasons…I was starting a second master’s program, I was raising a son, I switched jobs, etc. The real reason I gave up is that it is HARD and TIME CONSUMING (two of my least favorite adjectives).

The main reason why it is HARD and TIME CONSUMING is that the work has to be original (or at least labeled for commercial reselling) – from wording, to clipart, and fonts. 

As a teacher I can honestly tell you that most of the resources I use in my classroom has been pirated in one form or another. I take an idea from Pinterest, I get cute fonts from different sites, I add pictures to my presentations from google images…without a care or worry in the world! Now I am trying to enter a world where I can make money from these things…but they aren’t my things (so I could be sued…and I don’t want to be sued).

I managed to come up with three original ideas from 2012-2014 and putting those together took some time. When it came to deciding if I wanted to spend my nights putting together things to sell or watching Dancing with the Stars. I have to say Dancing with the Stars won.

I’ve kept my “store” open on TpT and always had it in the back of my mind to (when my life settled down) give it another go.

Well this year I am giving it another go. This is in large part to becoming a ClassFlow Ambassador. ClassFlow has opened up a Teacher Marketplace and part of my Ambassador requirements is to post two items in the marketplace each month (either paid or free). I don’t mind the obligation because it is “forcing” me to do something I have wanted to get back into and it is helping me really get to know the ClassFlow software. Although not as established as TpT, I feel their Marketplace has potential (because this month the Promethean Planet websitemerges with the ClassFlow website directing thousands of new users to the Marketplace). I also really like having a deadline (two products a month…it is a lot more specific then “I want to sell stuff”).

So now I am back to my original problem of creating work using resources labeled for commercial reuse. I started doing some research on how other sellers go about finding their resources. I started at the top with advice from Deanna Jump. I found the advice too generic. I need SPECIFICS. Luckily I came across this post which had some really good practical advice, which I used in my first product – Site Word Bingo Cards. I used font from a seller she suggested and I used images from https://pixabay.com/ (which someone in a chat room suggested).  I modified that first product and made a second completely digital product – Site Word Gaming.

My big AHA moment, as I put together these two products, is that I am not graphically creative (I actually knew that but this was more of a harsh reminder). If you are one of these graphically challenged people you can do what I did…look at graphic design elements from other sellers. You can’t outright copy but I found I liked a color blocking idea in one and the use of circles and the placement of words in another. I sort of combined those into a something that looked somewhat creative.




Bottom line my advice in the art and craft of selling in a teacher marketplace is:

1.       Know how to get items that you can reuse commercially
2.       Tweak graphic design elements if you aren’t creative
3.       Give yourself a monthly goal
4.       Find ways to re-purpose similar ideas

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cool Things in Schools

I love my job...I get to go to a bunch of different schools and I always like checking out what other teachers have posted or have done in their classroom. Here are some of my back-to-school finds.

1. The "You Decide" poster. It was located outside a nurses office and when I saw it, I stopped to look at it (which is always a mark of a good display). I loved its simplicity and message.


2. The "stage". I delivered a class set of iPads in this classroom and and literally said, "Shut the front door! You have a STAGE?!?! With a RUNWAY?!?! Can I walk it?!?!?". It was ridiculously cool (#everyoneshouldhaveastage). The teacher made it over the summer after visiting the Ron Clark Academy last year and he did an awesome job (side note: visiting the Ron Clark Academy is on my bucket list). There were other Ron Clark touches that I need to take pictures of but it is the stage that I really loved (the kids loved it as well and laughed when made a big deal of walking it). I told the teacher that I need to come back and model a lesson JUST to be on the stage :)



3. The "Cafe Room". I was doing iPad rollouts at this school when someone told me about their Cafe Room. The media assistant, who had gotten the grant and did the bulk of the decorating, was happy to show it off. It was seriously cool. It was in their old drama room that had been painted black (walls and ceilings). The media assistant hung empty frames around, had brick wall decals, the room had painted iron tables and chairs, cool curtains around the Promethean board with paintings behind it, and a faux chandelier in the center. The room is available for teachers to book with their students. I would definitely find excuses to use it as much as possible!  





Sunday, August 14, 2016

Back-to-School Activity - Twist on a Pair/Share




I was recently in a training class where the trainer used a “divide and slide” activity to get us up, moving, and sharing. It was a lot of fun. I thought it could be used for a back-to-school activity along with another strategy I’ve used with students before called a “Six Word Story” (this strategy is part of the Discovery Education Spotlight on Strategies series).

In this activity students would come up with a six words sentence to highlight something they did over the summer. They would then share with their classmates during the “divide and slide”.

As a teacher, you might need to model writing a six-word sentence (this type of writing is also referred to as micro-writing). So on the board I might model writing a six-word story:

- I worked to rescue sea turtles.
- I geocached in five different states.
- My mother-in-law fell breaking her hip.

Give students a reasonable amount of time to write their story (I would cut up paper in fourths and give each child a sheet to write on. Once they were done have them get in the “divide and slide” lines to share. They have to introduce themselves to the person across from them before starting (i.e. “Hi, my name is Eve”…then they share. When it is the next person’s turn they will say “Hi, my name is Jason”…then they share. This way they start to get to know each other’s names.) If a child says they did “nothing” over the summer…challenge them to come up with a six-word story that indicates they did nothing.

You can even grade it as an easy ELA/Writing grade. To get a perfect score the story has to have six words (no more/no less). It would be fun for the kids to go home and say they got an “A” in a writing assignment the first day of school.

If you have time, have students share the most interesting/attention grabbing six-word story they heard (it can’t be their own!).


I use to keep short stories (similar to this) in the student’s writing folder because it can be used later as a jumping off point for longer writing pieces. 

If you try it...let me know how it goes!

Educational Ambassador Programs



I recently applied and was selected to be a ClassFlow ambassador for the coming school year. I heard about the position when I attended ISTE and volunteered to be a part of their focus group (see blog post HERE). I have done numerous training within our district on how to use ClassFlow (we went 1:1 with devices in all grade levels last year) and for the most part I was self taught (they have a lot of great getting started videos). I applied hoping to get more detailed training with all their new changes (which I will) and first dibs on any new product launches (and I also have secret fantasy that I will get to visit the Ron Clark academy since they are a large sponsor...no word on that happening but my fingers are crossed).

Apparently there are a lot of Ambassador programs with various educational companies...because I heard of two others while I was at ISTE. I'm actually shocked this was the first year I heard of these types of programs. ClassFlow is free (you can sign up here) and is a place you can build interactive lesssons that can be pushed out to student devices. So instead of you being at the front of the room teaching from your board, calling one student up at a time, to interact with the lesson...you can send out your lesson to the students and they can interact with it. It is pretty cool and I have done a lot of modeling in our district using the software. (See my first ClassFlow blog post HERE from 2014). 

ClassFlow was an easy company to decide to apply for...mainly because of our districts use (and it helps that it is a product I love and promote in our district all the time).

I actually didn't know what becoming an ambassador meant so I applied blindly. I was thinking I would get a free t-shirt, maybe some free stuff to hand out during training, a field trip to schools using the product well, co-teach at a conference...those sort of things.

While I haven't got any free t-shirt (yet) I did get a list of things you are asked to do as an ambassador which does include attending training and webinars, respond to posts within the community, help promote the product on social media, etc. It helps that I have no obligations this year for me so I am free to jump into being an Ambassador (last year I was in an intense Master Naturalist class for the full school year). I actually signed a contract (scary!) that said I would do all these things and a spreadsheet each month where I attach and send in proof. The person in charge is really nice and used to be a classroom teacher so she understands "life" happens. I think the contract is in place to help remind you to do all the things you are supposed to do. There is an "escape" clause in the contract for both the ClassFlow folks or you...if you need an out.

FYI - Another random Ambassador fact (at least for ClassFlow not sure of other companies)...I have to have a background check and a drug screening.

If you really love and use an educational company I would definitely check to see if there is an Ambassador program that you can apply for. I have a friend who runs a lego lab in one of our schools and I told her she should check with the "Legos for Education" folks to see. She knows I would make a HORRIBLE Lego Ambassador since I am terrible at building things and cleaning and sorting legos is my idea of torture. 

If you are interested in becoming an ambassador, but not this year, think instead about starting a blog or being active on social media as your goal for the school year. I think having both (a blog and being activity on social media) is what pushed me into the "accepted" category when I applied. 






Friday, July 22, 2016

Making Snap Chat Filters





Recently at a conference the sponsoring company (Discovery Education) posted some fun snap chat filters. This lead to the "How did you do that?" question from many of the teachers in attendance. Lindsey Hopkins, the DE employee who created the filters on the above pictures, lead an unconference class on how she created them. It was very good!

The discussion in the session also focused on how to use them in schools and there were a lot of good ideas -  Spirit Week - Homecoming - Prom - Back to School Nights - Professional Development Training or Seminars. People also make them for events like weddings and parties.

NOTE - These aren't the crazy filters with rainbows coming out of your mouth and giant eyes these are more like branding and location filters.

I went ahead and made a test filter for a meeting with my supervisor to discuss possibly using it at one of our summer institutes (and to see how easy or hard it was to set up). It takes about 2 days to be approved. They have two types of geofilters - one for "community" (free for cities, universities, a local landmark, or another public location but no brand logos allowed) and then one that is labeled "on demand". That is a paid one but it is inexpensive. For my meeting I chose the "on demand" filter and I made it live in the location I wanted for 2 hours for $5. You can schedule them out in advance for a specific time, specific hours, and of course a specific location.

Lindsey had some trial and errors and shared with us some things she learned -

- Do a set time period. You don't want to have to pay for a filter when no one is in a school at night.
- Only select the area that people are going to be using the filter (cost is also based on the size of the area you select).
- Using light colors for the lettering works better then the dark colors

I asked about programs for setting up the filters and she used Photoshop (Snapchat has some templates you can download that are compatible with Photoshop). I am used to PicMonkey (and it is FREE) so I followed this great YouTube tutorial for how to set up a snapchat filter in PicMonkey.



The process was easy (I completed it in under a half hour). I think it would help if you had an art student or teacher design the filter. I have no graphic experience and it shows in my rather lame filter attempt (I will post it once it goes live). 

The steps are as follows:

1. Make the filter on some editing software (complete guidelines are on their website)
2. Go to their website and select the type of filter (free or paid)
3. Upload your filter
4. Choose the date and time for your filter
5. Select the area you want your filter to appear (I just typed in the address and used their tool to highlight the building - Lindsey suggested do it slightly outside the boarders).
6. Pay or submit based on what filter you selected

Once done you will get an email confirmation that they received and are reviewing it. A teacher in the session was concerned that a "creative" student might try and post a nasty filter but we felt it would get vetted during this review process. I got my response that it was approved and will go live within 24 hours of submitting. 

I definitely think it is a fun way to promote your schools and take advantage of students and parents using Snap Chat.  

UPDATE: 

These were the filters I made for the meeting with my supervisor. While she liked the idea we see where using a white background for the wording wasn't necessary the best color (see pictures above). We also had a problem getting the filters to come up on her personal phone. It worked fine on my work phone, her work phone, and another persons work phone (all had location services on and were connected to the buildings wifi). We tried her personal phone and another person's personal phone, both had location services turned on (in general and for the app) but they were connected to their data plan (Verizon in both cases). In theory, the filter should have showed up for them. I am not sure why it didn't. I have an email into the Snapchat folks to find out. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chrome Extension - CraftyText

I am currently at a conference specific to users of the Discovery Education website and I have been going to a number of classes. In yesterday's class, how to use green screen with DE resources, the instructor Dave. T. showed us this fun chrome extension. The extension basically lets you display text (in this case his website address) in a huge banner like format across your screen (see last picture). This is a great tool for directing students to websites that they normally couldn't see on your screen (in the past I just copied and pasted web addresses to a Word document and blew it up - this is much better!). 

Below are screen shots on how to get the extension and how to use it.