Tuesday, April 19, 2016

PDF Split and PDF Merge ... when you need them, you need them fast! #edtech #BISDconnect

Pin It These 2 tools are obscure and not daily needs, but when you need them, you need them fast! I have been in several situations lately where I needed to pull out 1 page of a pdf and merge it with another file. Great FREE web tools to the rescue!

Monday, April 4, 2016

My 3 favorite tools for social media marketing and why they're critical for education! #edtech #gafe #BISDconnect

Pin It Don't put your head in the social media sand! Social media & digital marketing is becoming more and more critical in public education. Every other business is working hard to sell their product ... why shouldn't we?! Three quick reasons why you should be embracing social media and digital marketing for yourself, your school and/or your district...
  • This is the media age - school communication needs have increased and become more complex
  • Education is under attack - if there is no positive communication from us, only the critics will be heard
  • The scope of school PR has expanded - we need a comprehensive approach including print, face-to-face AND DIGITAL
Here are 3 powerful tools that you can use to help share your story, sell your product (QUALITY EDUCATION!) and keep your stakeholders engaged.

1. Buffer

If you're not already aware of and using Buffer, I hope you will be after reading this post! One of the most powerful aspects of using social media is the ability to reach more people with your message. Buffer takes this idea to the next level by letting you post to multiple social media channels in one place. Here's what my Buffer dashboard looks like...

I have my Twitter account, Google+ page, Facebook page, and LinkedIn account all connected in my Buffer account. I can add posts to my queue or schedule them to post at a specific time. All of my connected channels receive the information I post simultaneously. Broader reach. Greater audience. Less work. Bigger impact. Here's what it looks like when I'm ready to schedule a post or add it to my queue...

I use the free version of Buffer personally and the paid version for all Brenham ISD posts (I do all of the social media posts for the district). Brenham ISD pays for the "Awesome Plan" so I can schedule more than 10 posts at a time. On Monday mornings, I schedule all of the posts for all of the campuses with upcoming events based on the information on their campus Google calendar. Then, I can fill in with posts throughout the week and add them to the district Buffer queue.

In addition, Buffer offers a hand dandy Chrome extension! :) So when you come across something you know your audience can benefit from, you can click the extension and automatically add it to your queue. Work smarter, not harder!


If This Then That also allows you to connect your apps. This tool works by creating "recipes." For example, when I post to the EdTech Chic blog, IFTTT automatically sends my post to my Twitter account. The recipe looks like this...
Again ... Broader reach. Greater audience. Less work. Bigger impact.

There are DOZENS of channels you can connect and HUNDREDS (or maybe more!) of recipes you can create. Another of my favorite recipes sends all of my tweets to a Google Sheet so when I'm thinking "Ugh, what was that article or link I shared last month about PBL?!" I don't have to scroll through hundreds of tweets to find it ... I just ctrl+f in the sheet and search for keywords.

See, work smarter, not harder! Are you beginning to see a trend?! :)

3. Flashissue

This last tool is not a freebie, but it has proven worth my financial investment because the return has been great. Our Tech Dept blogs every day. EVERY. DAY! We blog about technology tools, formative assessment, teaching strategies, motivational ideas, educational trends, etc. We - blog.

However, sometimes the people we're blogging for (BISD staff!) forget to go check out our blog every day. So, Flashissue allows me to create an email newsletter that we send out as a "Friday Follow-up from BISDwired." The simple drag-and-drop interface lets me pull over the blog posts from each day in a sidebar and then sends it off in a nice, easy to read, embedded email format.

We have gotten excellent feedback from this Friday Follow-up email newsletter and many staff members have responded to this even if they missed the initial blog post. Once again ... Broader reach. Greater audience. Less work. Bigger impact.

I hope you find these 3 tools as useful as I have and I also hope you embrace the use of social media and digital marketing in the world of education. Let's let the whole wide world know all of the AMAZING things we're doing as educators and showcase all of the POSITIVE things happening in our schools!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Using Weebly for Digital Student Portfolios - what we did and how we did it! #edtech #BISDconnect

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Several months ago, Mrs. West - Graphic Design teacher at BHS, approached me with an idea to have her students create digital portfolios. We discussed the possibility of using Google Sites for this, since we are a GAFE district, but then I went to TCEA and saw a session with the "2 Bald Dudes" and they recommended using Weebly.  You can see their presentation here.

After talking with Mrs. West when I returned, we decided to dive in and give it a try. We met to plan how to introduce the concept to her students and brainstorm what they would need to know.  We came up with this presentation and co-taught it the following week:

For the rest of that week, Mrs. West worked with the students to research and develop personal logos, discuss branding, take new headshots (if necessary) and write bios.

Then, it was time to begin the technical part ... creating a Weebly account and building the site. Because of my schedule, I was unable to be with Mrs. West and her students in person, so I created a series of short videos to work through each step of the process. (Why does YouTube always grab the WORST of my talking faces in the thumbnail?!)

I have been checking in with the students periodically and I am BLOWN AWAY with what they are creating.  Their logos are beautiful and creative.  Their portfolios are clean and professional.  They listened to our advice and applied it to their work and I am CRAZY proud!  When their work is complete, I will ask for some volunteers to share their URLs for me to post, so check back soon!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Disney Quotes to Live By ... thank you @ADismukes16 for inspiring me to create these bulletin boards! #BISDconnect

Pin It Several months ago, my pal Amanda Dismukes shared her idea of wanting to brighten the days of our BHS students with encouraging, inspiring bulletin boards.  Well...it just so happens that there's a bulletin board outside my office!  Amanda sent me this idea to recreate for our first one...

Today, I felt inspired by Disney quotes and found there are SO MANY OF THEM!  (Click here to see the list that I used.)  So, with the help of Google Drawings, the Research tool and some copy and paste action, I quickly came up with this...

Click here for the public folder of my Google Drawings and feel free to modify and/or use for your own inspiring bulletin board. Even secondary students stop to take notice!!!  :)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Google for the Gold: Across the Finish Line with Autocrat #GAFE #BISDconnect #edtech

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Tuesday was the second session in my Google for the Gold series at Brenham High School.  Below is the presentation with an embedded how-to video on slide 22.  Use if you can and happy merging!  :)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

An Open Love Letter to Brenham High School #BHSwired #IChooseBrenham

Pin It Dear Brenham High School,

Thank you for a perfect day with you today. From the time I dropped off my youngest at the BISD CDC and walked out happily chatting with Coach Mouser to the moment I backed my car out of the parking lot, it has been a truly wonderful day in your halls. Who would have thought two years ago that I would love this campus so very much?!

As the product of two secondary teachers/administrators, I never in a million years thought I would EVER want to be on a high school campus. I thought my parents were crazy for teaching secondary physics and biology. I was quite content to stay in the middle school arena and be an “elementary” person. I surprised myself when I took the opportunity to move over to Brenham High School two years ago. I was hungry for a new challenge, which overtook my fear of the “big kids” and the content experts who taught them. I think many of my friends thought I had lost my mind to leave the elementary school where my oldest would soon attend, but I did it anyway.

Today was one of those idyllic days where I am reminded why I made that decision (and for the record, my son is probably better off WITHOUT having me on his campus!). I have had a permanent smile on my face all day. BHS loved me today and I loved it right back. Here are just a few ways I loved BHS today…

  • 8:00 am - planning a PBL unit with Mrs. West to create digital portfolios for her design students (How can I create an e-portfolio to start building my brand in order to land the perfect job?)
  • 9:45 am - PBL follow-up with Mrs. Dismukes (Will I use Algebra after high school?) and watching her absolutely kill it using DocHub, Screencast-o-matic, Snagit, and Google Drive
  • 9:46 am - cracking up laughing at one of Dismukes’ kids talking in “announcer voice” when she started her screencast
  • 9:50 am - saying good morning to a student in the hallway and having him smile big and say good morning back (Did you know that you can speak to high school students and they’ll SPEAK BACK?!)
  • 10:30 am - following a delicious smell all the way to Mrs. Marik’s culinary arts class to find them making chicken spaghetti … and then being sent on my way with a container full of sauteed peppers and onions for second breakfast :)
  • 10:56 am - receiving an email from Mrs. Hansen (Math Dept Head) bragging on her department for ROCKING OUT with chromebooks and Google Forms and Flubaroo
  • 11:00 am - watching Mrs. Perry’s Glee students perform “Country Classics” in the choir room with my Tech Dept pal, Tom Spall
  • 11:30 am - seeing Mrs. Crowson (BHS AP) tell the kids about the story behind “Ring of Fire” and then watching her PERFORM IT on the piano while she and the kids sang together!
  • 1:16 pm - glimpsing Mrs. Kocian jamming in the hallway to Stevie Wonder's Superstition during the passing period
  • 2:49 pm - laughing with some students in the hall who were working on a display and got all excited for me to take their picture and tweet it

I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in how cute the “little kids” are at the elementary schools. I get it. I did it. However, I am finding that I am getting wrapped up in the spunk and grit and humor and maturity of secondary students. They’re FUNNY, y’all! And sarcastic. And smart. And kind. I challenge any of my readers to walk the halls of your high school and speak to every student you pass. I would bet my lunch (and that’s saying something!) that they smile and speak back.

So … Brenham High School, thank you. Thank you for opening my heart to the joys and excitement of a secondary campus. Thank you to every staff member (from teachers to admins to secretaries to one of my favorite librarians!) and every student who has welcomed me to Brenham High School and made me feel like I’m a part of the high school party. I am a believer. I am sold. I say secondary is where it’s at.  I choose Brenham!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

New PD series for #BHSwired - Google for the Gold! #GAFE #BISDconnect

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Last semester I offered a short Lunch and Learn series for my Brenham High School teachers called Google Drive Reboot.  This series was designed to help staff members refresh their basic Google skills.  (Click here to see the Google Site and materials.)

This semester, we're ready to go to the next level with...

Google for the Gold is a series that will help some of my advanced teachers get more out of their Google Apps.  Today was the first session, First Place Goes to Flubaroo, and I was so impressed with the tips and tricks shared by some of my veteran Flubaroos users.  We also got to talk about some cool Chrome extensions like bit.ly and Share to Classroom! :)

Below is the presentation from today's session along with a follow-up video for my folks who couldn't make it in person. Feel free to use these materials to help your staff members go for the Google gold!