Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Love Google Drive!

Last week our school had a short (very short!) training on Google Drive. Our school got 90 Chromebooks and we needed to learn how to use them.

Even though the training was short - it was amazing! I had no idea all of the things we can do in the classroom with Google Drive and Google Classroom! The kids love it, so they are totally engaged and it makes differentiating truly possible.

I am going to share what I am learning - through the training and on my own - in several posts. Here is the first one:

Setting up your Google Drive with Teachers Pay Teachers in mind.

First, you need a Google account. If you have a gmail account - you have a Google account.

Once you sign in to your account you will find a 3 by 3 array in the upper right corner of the Google search page.

Click this array and a menu will pop up. Select "Google Drive".

You will get to a page that looks a little like the one below. If this is your first time in Google Drive you won't have any documents or folders though.

To create a new folder or document, click the red button in the left side of the screen. If you are running the old version of Google Drive (old, like a few weeks ago) the red button will say, "Create". If you are running the new version of Google Drive it will say, "New".

Once you click this button you will see options to create a new folder, Google Docs, Google  Sheets, or Google Slides.

The Google types of documents are just like Office documents, but they have the very important bonus that you have them with you all the time! I love this. I used to constantly e-mail myself stuff. It took forever, and I did not like it! Now, I have everything I work on at home on my school computer. It is wonderful!

Now, just a heads up.

If you are like me, you create a lot of resources for your class and then sell them on TpT. But did you know that if you use any district resources to create what you make, the school district may have legal grounds to claim that product as their own? I don't make enough money for them to be interested yet, but I do plan on that changing eventually. So, I make sure that I don't use any school resources to create my products.

This gets complicated because my school and provided us with Google Education accounts. Anything I create here may be considered "district owned". So, I need to create everything on my personal Google Drive.

The good news is I can "SHARE" anything from my personal drive with my school drive. I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to do this and keep everything organized. Finally, I just created a folder named, "My Drive" in my personal account. I put everything in that folder - other folders too. Then, I shared the "My Drive" folder with my school account. Now, anything I work on for my personal account will automatically show up in that folder for my school account.

Okay, that is it for now. I don't know that I did the best job explaining it. I find the best way to learn Google Drive is to just jump in. When you get stuck, just "Google" your question. There are tons of resources out there to answer every question you could possibly have.

More to come! Have a great night!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Power of Expectations

Have you ever listened to This American Life or Radiolab? These are two of my all-time favorite radio shows - and now podcasts. I listen to them while I am working (alone - not while I have kids in the classroom). I constantly learn something new and I am totally blown away.

Well, two of the producers from these shows have started their own show called, Invisibilia. Right now there are only two shows done, but they are both amazing. As in a-ma-zing!

As a preview to their show they actually did a show that aired on This American Life just last week. It was called "Batman". It too, is a-ma-zing!

The show is all about expectations. It turns out that our expectations of a person (or an animal) affects how that person (or animal) performs. You have to listen to the show to get the whole story, but basically if you think a rat will run a maze faster... he will. A lot faster than if you don't think he can do it.

This is not an opinion or an idea - this is a fact.

And it is also true for teachers and their students.

Now, I like to say that I have always believed that my students are all capable of great things. It is actually something I pride myself on, but it isn't true. There have been a few kids that I have put into the "Yeah, you could succeed, but..." category. Not intentionally. Not because I didn't like the kid. But deep down, I don't think I had as much faith in these kids. More often than not... they lived up (or down) to my expectations.

Did I cause this?

Scientists would say... yes.


So, what I am focusing on for the rest of this year is treating every kid like they are the smartest kid in my class. 100% believing that every kid is special and capable of achieving great things. This shouldn't be too hard because it is true. Every child is a miracle to someone. Every child can do great things. Especially when they are expected to.

I will let you know how this goal goes and update you on how my kids are living up to these high expectations!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

We Need To Change

I don't usually post anything controversial or political - on my blog, Facebook, or anywhere. I have just realized that people don't change their minds based on what you tell them, and it really just leads to bad feelings between people who don't agree.

But, tonight, when I signed on to work on a new product I saw a horrible news story. You know those news stories where you wish you really hadn't seen them? Then you feel guilty because you don't want to see the story, and some poor person had to live it. I'm not going to share the story here because it is so horrible. Trust me, you don't want to know.

The story was about a mother who did something terrible to her child. As my own baby lies here sleeping next to me, I can't imagine ever doing anything to cause her pain. Mothers aren't supposed to harm their children. Tragically, some people are sick - there is something wrong that makes them do these horrible things. It is so sad, for everyone.

We see people in the news every day who were struggling. They needed help and they didn't get it, and then something terrible happens.

I don't know about you, but I am tired of it.

We need to take better care of each other. We need to help each other and support each other, without expecting anything in return.

Why don't we take care of each other?

Companies who aren't willing to give their employees sick leave? States trying to pass laws so that certain people can't get married? People willing to kill because someone practices the wrong religion?

I realize this sounds very political, but I am just seeing so much distrust and hate in these acts. Why can't we give others the benefit of the doubt? Why can't we help others when we can - the way we would hope someone would help us when we needed it?

We are all just people. No matter what religion we practice, the color of our skin, or the balance in our checking accounts.

I don't know exactly what I am trying to say. I just feel like I need to get all of this off my chest. In my experience people need two things to thrive. First, they need to feel accepted and loved. Second, they need hope. When either of these things is missing, bad things happen.

As teachers, we are in the business of providing these two things in the classroom. My challenge to you (and myself), is to strive to provide them everywhere we go. Maybe we will be the example the people around us need to change their lives.

I apologize for the preachy tone here. I do not want to lecture anyone. I know that I personally can do so much more than I do now, and I am going to work to do that.

Because I am tired of the alternative.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Back to School

Adorable baby #4
I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I need to just keep saying it because I have to be honest - I need about another month of winter break! We are a family of night owls and it has been wonderful to roll out of bed around 9. All of us. Even my little baby sleeps in when she can. Plus my older kids are so much fun. 

Do you ever feel like this?

This morning I was even thinking about taking next year off and focusing on my family. I am sure I would regret this decision by August, but maybe not...

I am sure that I will be happy when we get back to school. I adore all the kids in my class and I have some fun new ideas to try out. You will be seeing posts soon!

Anyway, I guess what I am saying is I am loving this break and I wish it could last a little longer. Hopefully I am over that by Sunday night - or Monday morning...