A Glimpse of TIES 2012


After driving through a snowstorm on Sunday to get there and then getting home late Tuesday night I have had many hours in the car to reflect upon my TIES 2012 experience.   Some of the ideas and resources shared there moved me to share 3 big take-aways with you.

1.  As teachers, professional development has undergone a big change.  Gone are the days where sitting in a class or all-day inservice is where we get our information.  Professional development, especially dealing with technology, is available on-demand.  Tap into resources available to you – your PLC, grade level, online communities (like Tioki or LinkedIn), read what others have to say (journals, blogs, etc.) and then when you are ready share your ideas.  One of the best things I have done professionally is join Twitter.  I am not the one that is usually doing the tweeting but by following professionals in my field, I have a plethora of resources at my fingertips. If you feel adventurous search for the hashtag #ties12 to see tweets from the conference.

2.  “Teachers are the best apps.”  – Simon Sinek   My keynote on Monday was unbelievable and gave me the jump start I needed this time of the year.  If you haven’t heard of Simon Sinek, take 20 minutes and watch this video.

Sinek’s message was about how even though we have technology at our fingertips, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have relationships and connections with kids.  Here are some of my favorite tweets about his keynote.

-How many of your students, if asked 20 yrs from now, will remember your name. It’s not the ipad/laptop, it’s you
– School is the time you want to fail, not in life.
– Teachers don’t teach curriculum they teach students.
– Technology is good for speeding up transactions, passing out information and connecting people – not for building relationships.
– Time & energy = crucial for developing trust. Trust = required for working together.
– Supts priority should be principals, principals should be teachers, and teachers should be students. Protect those under you.

3.  Our keynote on Tuesday was Dr. Tony Wagner . The focus of his keynote was about creating innovators and preparing our students for life outside our institution.  I was proud to think about the work that our District is doing in college and career readiness to prepare our students.   Here are some of my favorite tweets from his presentation.

– Survival skills: adaptability and initiative
– Play. Passion. Purpose.
– Learn to take intelligent risks and learn from mistakes. Can’t innovate w/o trial and error.
–  Every teacher needs to be an effective coach today.
– There is no innovation without deep collaboration
– Critical thinking? The ability to ask the right questions, not get the right answers
– World cares what kids can DO with what they know.  And if they’re motivated to do it

Ok.. there are way more than 3 big take-aways for me but information overload has set in.  I would encourage you to check out the TIES 2012 wiki.  All of the conference presentations are found here and there are technology resources for everyone.

11/15 New and Notables – LearnZillion

This week’s New and Notables features LearnZillion.  LearnZillion features high quality lessons you can use for free by signing up for a free account . As I was exploring the site for the first time, I felt like LearnZillion was where the Khan Academy meets the Common Core.

There are short videos that demonstrate a skill in Math or ELA and give an example problems.  A narrators takes you through the video explaining the process to solve the problem.  You can either watch the videos or download the slide to use in your classroom.  You can star lessons to make them as your favorite so you can easily find them the next time you are looking. You can search by grade level, domain, standard, or keyword.  My FAVORITE part of LearnZillion was the page entitled “Common Core” where you can actually click on the grade and band of the specific skill that you want to find resources for.

By click on the grade band you will find specific lessons for each standard and folders with lessons.

LearnZillion can be a great resource for reteaching concepts in the classroom.  They continue to add new content every day; so if what you are looking for is not there today, check back tomorrow!

11/1 New and Notables – Tagxedo

New and Notables? What’s this?

Carrie, our literacy specialist, and I have been discovering a variety of new technological, mathematical, and literacy (reading, writing, speaking, and listening for all content areas) resources. These include a wide range of tools that can be incorporated into any classroom. In hopes of sharing these resources with our staff we are beginning a “New and Notables” 15 minute preview twice a month, today is our first!

Today, we are sharing the site Tagxedo.  This site takes words – famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters and turns them into a visually stunning word cloud, with words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text. You may be wondering how this is different from a Wordle.  A Wordle is also a word cloud but Tagxedo gives the user opportunity to also incorporate a visual image with words -check out the differences below.

How can you use it in your classroom? This is perfect for presentation visual aids, it is taking a concrete thought and making it abstract, and as a formative check for teacher to ensure students are getting main ideas. Students and teachers will love the creativity and 21st century skills used to create your tagxedo.


Wordle Example:

Tagxedo Example:


Day 12 – Drive vs. Docs?

For some of you it has happened already. For others it is coming soon. Your Google Documents will be changing over to Google Drive.  So what’s the difference?  Here is what Google tells us about Drive.

Think of Google Drive as your personal stash of files and folders that follows you wherever you go – it lets you keep everything and share anything with 5 GB of storage. With Google Drive, you can access files, folders, and Google Docs from a web browser or any device where you’ve installed your Google Drive.

Your Google Drive is in the cloud, but you can also install the desktop and mobile application to access your files from your computer, smartphone, tablet, or other Android or iOS mobile device, in addition to the online interface at drive.google.com. Google Drive’s built-in sync capability ensures that your files, folders, and Google Docs are the same on all your devices.

Here is the best part (in my opinion) –

What’s changed

  • Collections are now called folders.
  • More things have been added to the Settings menu, including upload settings.
  • The left navigation has new views:The Home view is gone. Instead, use My Drive to organize all of your files, folders, and Google Docs.
    • My Drive
    • Shared with me
    • Activity

What’s completely new

  • Sync files between all of your devices with Google Drive for your Mac or PC.
  • View and search Google Drive on the web in a visual way with grid view.
  • Add a file to a folder by clicking the folder icon within a file or Google document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

Want to read more information? Check out Navigating your Google Drive

Want to see an overview of this new change?

Sit down, hold on tight, and get ready to Drive!

Day 11 – Organizing your home

Organizing your home? Don’t confuse this with your own personal space. I am talking about your Home area in Google Docs/Drive.  One of the complaints that I have heard is that the Home area looks cluttered and people want to get rid of the documents that hang out there.  Now there is an easy way to do just that.

Simply check the box next to the document in and then from the More button select “Don’t Show in Home”


The document will disappear from your Home area.  If you had the document saved in a collection, it will appear there.


If your document was not in a collection you can always search for it by using the search bar.


Because it is not in your Home area anymore, simply get rid of Home in the search bar before you search to search in all documents.


Using the Don’t Show in Home option along with creating Collections for you documents will help to keep your Google Documents organized and easy to use!


Day 10 – Forms

Google Forms are easy to use and share and can collect a variety of data.  Think about a time that you have wanted information from a number of people. By creating a Google Form all of your information is organized in one place in a spreadsheet format. So, how do you do it?

  1. Click Create new > Form.

  1. In the form template that opens, you can add any questions and options you’d like. You can move around the questions and select a variety of question formats (multiple choice, check boxes, short answer, etc.)
  2. Click Email this form once you’ve finished adding your questions. You can also send a URL to your friends if you prefer that.
  3. Add the email addresses (or select people from your address book) of the people to whom you want to send this form.
  4. Click Send

Then, when you want to check out your collected information you can access the spreadsheet. If you need to make any changes to the form you can edit it by opening the spreadsheet then clicking on Form, then Edit Form.

Want to know more bells and whistles about Google Forms? Check out this link!

Want to see what a Google Form looks like? Then check out my sample form about my blog by clicking here.

Day 9 – Emailing Google Documents

Did you that in Google Docs you can directly email someone your document as an attachment? Here are the steps:

1. Once you have the document open click on File, then email as an attachment


2. From there a box will pop up. First select what type of file you should send.  I typically use PDF because then anyone can open it up.


3. Then type in the names of the people you would like to send the document to and a message if you want.

Day 8 – Revision History

Revision History. Hands down one of my favorite parts about using Google Document or Drive – that is for a later date 🙂 This allows you to see who has contributed what portions to the shared document and even revert back to an older version.  So how do you do it?

First click on File, then See Revision History


Then a new item will appear on the right hand side of the screen. From here you can see all the edits but the various contributors.


Once you click on an older version you will see the option to restore back to the older version.


That’s all there is to it! So whether you are using this feature to find an older version of a document or checking each person’s contribution to a project, revision history comes in pretty handy.


Day 7 – Going Incognito

Many of us have gmail accounts we use in our personal lives.  Sometime you may be working in both of those accounts.  If you have done this then you may have also experienced the frustration of trying to switch between these two accounts.  The solution? Going incognito!

By pressing Ctrl, Shift, and N at the same time you can open a new window and go incognito.  This will allow you to log into multiple accounts with any of the headaches.

How do you know your are incognito? When you open the new window you will notice this message appear


And in the upper left hand corner you will also notice this guy…

Going incognito will make life between two gmail accounts that much better!

Day 6 – Chrome

Whether you are using Google Documents, Gmail or other Google applications, all Google items have one common theme.  They all run best when using Google Chrome.  This web browser was designed to be used with all Google applications and you will notice a significant difference when using these compared to another Internet browser.

One of my favorite things about Google Chrome is when you open Chrome.  If you click on the arrow you find on the left hand side


You will be directed to a page where you will find icons of your most visited websites.  This provides an easy opportunity to your “favorites”.


The other way to mark favorites in Chrome is through the Bookmarks Bar.  When you are on a website you would like to include in your favorites click on the star in the address bar.


You can rename the favorite site to anything you want.  To get your Bookmark Bar to appear, simply click on the wrench and then select Bookmarks, then show Bookmark Bar.