Personalize Your Profile in G Suite #GoogleEDU

The term “personalized learning” is becoming more and more present in our schools. It’s important to do. Technology allows us to create personalized learning paths, differentiate, and give students options to demonstrate their understanding in ways that are more accessible and user-friendly than ever before.

It may sound trivial, but a great way to personalize for your students is by customizing how they see their teacher in these various learning environments. It’s easy to do, and it adds some nice personalization for when you’re interacting with your students online.

G Suite Profile

I see so many teachers that do not have a profile picture on their Google account. If you don’t have a profile picture on your account, the default is the first letter of your first name. If you’ve never put a profile picture on your account I highly encourage you to do so. Remember, your profile picture appears across all of G Suite: Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Classroom, YouTube, Blogger, Keep, Sites, Google+, etc. For example, if you’re leaving a student some feedback in something they wrote in Docs, it adds nice personalization for them to see your smiling face along with your words. Or, if you’re emailing students or parents, it’s nice to see a profile picture along with your message. If you’re using Google Classroom, students see you in the banner of the class as well as with anything you post. If you don’t want to use a picture of yourself, use the Bitmoji version of yourself!

Adding text where it matters

There’s places where text is important across some G Suite apps as well. How about that signature in Gmail? I still see teachers and principals that don’t do this and it’s so easy. We want to know what school you’re at and what your role is! It looks professional and students and parents will appreciate it.

What about the “About” tab in Google Classroom? This is a great place to put more information about you and about your class. Students like knowing that their teachers are actual human beings outside of school. Share some things with your students about who you are as a person instead of them just knowing you as their teachers.

The same holds true with Google Sites and Blogger. If you’re using either of these to create a classroom website, are you putting an “About the teacher” page there? Again, showing your students who you are away from teaching doesn’t only make things more personal, it shows students and parents more about you which is great for making connections and building positive relationships.

Where to start

Going to https://myaccount.google.com/ is where you can always go to change your profile picture or any other settings related to your G Suite account. You only have to change your profile picture in this one spot and then it will appear across all of the Google tools.

screenshot of Kyle's my account page

Other educational apps

We have a myriad of educational apps and websites to use with our students to personalize learning. Any of these that allow you to add a profile picture and/or “about me” information, I would encourage you to add this level of personalization. It’s quick, easy, and it shows your students who you are.

Maybe if we do more little things like this to show our students who we are, they’ll feel more comfortable expressing to us who they are. This isn’t only great for their learning, but for their development as people too.

 

 

 

The Way ISTE Should Be Attended #iste17 #iste18

How do you think we build a future? I think we build it by investing in our kids and investing in education.
~Elizabeth Warren

Everyone has now returned from the beautiful chaos that is ISTE. I’ve been to ISTE several times now, and it still feels just as massive as the first time. However, this year was different in one big way. How was it different you ask? No, it wasn’t a product or app that I saw, it wasn’t a vendor party, and it wasn’t a particular presenter (way too many great ones to list anyway).

This is the first time I’ve attended ISTE as part of a group from my school district. In the past, I’ve always gone as just me; I attended on my own. This year, however, I was fortunate enough to attend with 10 other fantastic educators from my district. Our Director of Curriculum, one of our instructional technology coaches, 6 high school teachers, and 2 middle school teachers. This is a really great group with a great desire to be better for kids and a desire to help their colleagues be better too. It was such a pleasure to help them experience their first ISTE and learn from so many of my excellent friends. I was able to hear about their excitement first hand after listening to my friend Jennie give a standing ovation-worthy keynote, I watched them post selfies with other presenters that I knew they’d love learning from. I felt like a proud parent! 🙂

I just kept thinking, “Every person that attends ISTE should get to attend this way.”. I know many do, but I also know many that wish they could. That’s not to say attending solo cannot be impactful; just want to make sure that’s clear. And yes, many have a tribe of people that they only see at ISTE each year that they’ve become connected to through Twitter, blogging, and other connected means. Those connections are important too and a huge part of who I am. I love getting to see so many amazing friends that live all over the world…it’s the nicest feeling ever!

However, if you work for a school or a district and you have the means to take a group, please do it. Take your district leaders, school leaders, and certainly your teachers. As many as you can take. Plan now for 2018. It’s worth the investment I promise.

ISTE 2018 in Chicago

The Summer of Social Media

This post is a guest post for McGraw-Hill and is also posted here

Summer is a great time for many things: family vacation, 4th of July, BBQs, swimming at the pool, and generally recharging. It’s also a time that educators can give adequate time to new learning opportunities. It might mean attending a conference or workshop, working towards a graduate degree, or getting a special certification. Regardless of the reason why we know the time is valuable and can be used to become better for our students.

kids jumping into a lake

One thing that I think summer is great for in terms of professional learning is investing the time to better understand how you can use social media as an educator. Social media can be used as a great communication tool for a district, school, or a classroom. It can also become a great go-to resource for getting just in time information or following along with a conference you can’t attend in person. There are lots of options to try and summer is a great time to figure out which one(s) is best for you. Here are some options to think about:

Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter for nearly 9 years and it continues to be my most valuable resource. You’ll find me sharing blog posts, resources, and tech tips there. What’s even better are the brilliant people it can keep you connected to; someone you have seen present at a conference, an author, or a fellow teacher you share a common content area with. Don’t forget about the hashtags! Hashtags are keywords you can search around to find great people to connect with and get resources from. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account you can always go to search.twitter.com and type in any hashtag to see what’s being discussed and shared.  If you want to follow along with one of the biggest edtech conferences in the world, be sure to follow the #ISTE17 hashtag over the next month. This is just one example of so many.

You’ll find lots of great chats happening on Twitter as well. These are regularly scheduled discussions that happen on the same day and at the same time usually on a weekly basis. Our district is even having our own chats during the summer using our district PD hashtag – #GVEaglePD.

Twitter is definitely one of those things that follow the rule of “you get out of it what you put into it”. If you create an account, be sure to add a profile image, fill out your bio (we want to know about you!) and spend some time with it and give it a good chance!

Google+ Communities. Maybe you want some online PD that doesn’t limit you to 140 characters and gives you more of the social media experience maybe you’re used to (think Facebook)? I would look at joining some Google+ communities.  There are loads of education related topics that have communities. Find the one you like, click Join, and you’re off and running. In each community, you’ll see posts labeled with various categories, and there will be comments on various posts along with links, videos, and images. If you want a Google+ community on Google in Education, you’ve got one. If you want to learn more about project based learning, you’ll find it there. A tip: when you set up your profile on Google+ make sure you list your school district, what you teach, etc. because you’ll see more education related communities recommended to you when you click the Communities tab on the left side of the page. You can always, of course, just use the search box at the top of the page too.

Blogs and blogging. Sometimes, the best professional learning is just getting to do some reading and reflecting on your own. Many teachers enjoy following various educational news sites; many of which have regular writers that are currently practicing teachers and administrators. These can be organizations like (but certainly not limited to) Edutopia, EdSurge, ASCD, Education Week. and THE Journal or individual bloggers like (again not limited to) Katie Martin, Matt Miller, Shelly Terrell, and Doug Johnson.

As you start finding more and more online blogs and other sources you like to read regularly, I always get the question of how to manage all of them. I love to use Feedly (free version), which lets me aggregate all of my blogs and news sites into one place in an organized, clean interface. You can access it on the web and they have a mobile app as well that comes in handy for me to catch up on reading during my kids’ sports practices. 🙂

YouTube. Ah, the power of video. I always enjoy finding examples of and sharing the power that video can have in education. We are hard pressed to not find an instructional video on a particular topic. Now I know all of those videos are not instructional in a positive way, however, our students need us to be good models of effective use of YouTube. There’s too much great stuff there not to! There are great channels like (but of course not limited to) FriedTechnology, Tara Martin, Veritasium, Minute Earth, and Crash Course.

We can then of course jump into teachers using summer time to get comfortable with creating their own video content for their students too!

Are there more options than the 4 mentioned here? Yep definitely. Please share other suggestions in the comments and add more hashtags, communities, blogs, and channels there too. We’re better together, right? Enjoy your summer!