Thursday, July 30, 2015

Best of the Web - Summer 2015 Update

On Wednesday morning in Mooresville, North Carolina I presented an updated version of my popular best of the web slides. Those slides are embedded below. I try to provide something for everyone in the slides.

This Playlist Will Help You Learn How to Use Remind to Send Messages to Students

Earlier today one of my former colleagues sent me a Facebook message with questions about using Remind this fall. To help her get started I created the following playlist of tutorial videos. Nine of the videos in the playlist were produced by Remind the others were created by me. The full playlist is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Using text messaging services like Remind is an important part of a larger strategy for delivering your school and classroom announcements to as many people as possible. Email is great for longer messages, but it's hard to beat the efficiency of text messages for short reminder notes. And when you need to say more than can fit in a typical text message, try attaching a file to your Remind messages.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Three Webinar Recordings - Blogger, Google Drive, and YouTube

Last week I presented three webinars on behalf of Simple K12. If you couldn't attend the live sessions, you can now access the recordings through Simple K12.

Update 8/1/2015: Unbeknownst to me, Simple K12 has started to charge for these recordings. 

Click the links below to access the webinar recordings and hand-outs.
Blogging With Blogger. Hand-out.

10 Best Google Drive Add-ons. Hand-out.

The YouTube You Don't Know. Hand-out.

5 Important Things I've Learned About Classroom Blogging

1. Just ship it. Don’t spend too much time worrying about how the blog looks from a design standpoint because you can always tweak it later. When you’re getting started, any of the standard templates from Blogger,, KidBlog, Edublogs, or Weebly will do. The important thing is to get the blog started. As one of my bosses at FedEx used to say, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

2. Send out a blogging mission and permission notice to parents. Your school may not have a policy about student blogging, but it’s still a good idea to send a notice to parents about why their children are blogging. If you work with students under 13, you will want to explain how their privacy will be protected (no faces posted, no last names, pen names, etc). Jen Deyenberg shared a good blogging permission form here. A quick Google search for “blogging permission slips” will generate a bunch of other samples to evaluate.

3. Review Internet safety and etiquette protocols with your students. Planet Nutshell offers an excellent set of cartoon videos on Internet safety.

4. Create guidelines for how the classroom blog is to be used by students. If you’re planning to use the blog for active discussions with students, talk with them about tone. You might make it a classroom activity to develop online discussion norms. If you’re planning to use the blog as place for students to showcase their work, talk with students about how to offer constructive criticism. If the blog is going to include a widget through which students submit assignments, talk about file types and formatting so that you don’t pull your hair out converting a myriad submitted file types.

5. Expect that something will go wrong. You can plan until the cows come home, but there is always something that doesn’t go according to plan. In the case of classroom blogs that could be a mistake you make in posting a link or an inappropriate comment that a student writes. Treat these mistakes like any other mistake that happens in a classroom and turn them into teaching opportunities. If you made a mistake in posting a link or you posted a video that didn’t play correctly, explain what happened to the students so that you can all learn together. If a student posts an inappropriate comment (you should have comment moderation enabled to grab it before it goes live) use that opportunity to review Internet safety and etiquette with the student.

All of these lessons and many more will be explored in detail in my upcoming course, Classroom Blog Jumpstart starting on August 17th. 

Why You Might Want to Share a Tech Glossary at Your Next PD Day

A few years ago when I published my guide to using Blogger in the classroom I included a glossary of terms in it. That same glossary was also published as a stand-alone document that I often distribute when I lead webinars and workshops about blogging.

I created that glossary and others like it because I found that people in my workshops often had questions about the vocabulary that I and others were using. Distributing the glossary provides everyone in the workshop with a common vocabulary to use. Using that common vocabulary gives people a higher level of comfort in asking questions and more precision in articulating what they need from me.

We give students vocabulary lists and glossaries in our classrooms. We should do the same in professional development settings.