Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MediaCore #Chrome extension for easy screen capture and webcam recording! #BISDconnect #GAFE

Pin It A few months ago I happened upon the MediaCore Capture Chrome Extension while doing some research for a secondary English teacher.

This awesome extension is chromebook friendly and VERY easy to use. You have 2 options for recording: Desktop and Webcam. With the desktop option, you can also choose to embed the webcam - great for flipped classroom videos!

When you have finished recording, you will be redirected to the Review tab where you can upload your recording to a MediaCore site (requires an account) or download it (will save in file box on Chromebook).
Easy. Effective. FREE! This is a great tool for both teachers AND students!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The one question you need to ask to know what's happening on your campus or in your district...

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I ask it ALL THE TIME! If you really want to know what's happening on your campus or in your district, get out there, walk around, and ASK! Walk by a classroom and peek in. If they're doing something neat, walk in and say ... Whatcha doin'? See some students working in the hallway? Ask them ... Whatcha doin'? THEY - WILL - TELL - YOU! Even big kids will tell you. I was leaving the high school one day last week and saw this...

I could have easily just walked on by and gotten in my car, but my interest was peaked so I asked them ... Whatcha doin'?  They were all smiles telling me about a biology scavenger hunt they were working on. They even happily posed for me to take a picture to tweet out for BISD. I would never had known if I didn't ask the question.

All you have to do is ASK!

I challenge you to find one classroom or one group of students doing something really neat this week and ask them ... Whatcha doin'?  You won't be sorry you did it!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Shout out to @Techs4Tex and @FriscoISD for a wonderful #TxGoo16! #GAFE #BISDconnect

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If you missed the Texas Google Summit last Saturday, don't fret! You can still learn from this awesome group of presenters and educators. Click here to find sessions and presentations (the T4T team is still updating links, so check back often!) or click here to read the tweets from the day!

Congratulations to my pals from the Techs4Tex team! You guys did an outstanding job and Frisco ISD was the ideal host. I was blown away by the facility, the amazing decorations and the quality content providers! I heard nothing but good things from all!

Below are my three presentations from this awesome event. Enjoy and happy Googling! :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Easy slideshows and photo animations with Google Photos! #GAFE #BISDconnect

Pin It I am quite sure that someone somewhere has already showed me or told me how to do this...BUT, an application of this trick presented itself the other day and I was reminded of the glory that is Google Photos. :)

Need to make a slideshow or photo animation? Here's how...

Step 1: Go to and upload photos by clicking on the upload icon (near the search bar).

Step 2: After you have selected the photos you want to upload, choose the upload size. I usually go with "high quality" over original quality to conserve space.

Step 3: Once your photos have been uploaded, add them to an album.

Step 4: You can add them to an existing album or create a new album.

Step 5: If you're creating a new album, rename it and then click on the arrow to get back to your Google Photos dashboard.

Step 6: Now it's time to create the magic! Click on the + near the search bar and select animation.

Step 7: Select the photos from your newly created album or any others that you would like to include in your photo animation and click Create.

Step 8: Your finished product can be shared via social media or direct link or downloaded.

Just a few clicks and you, too, can create EASY, SIMPLE photo slideshows and animations!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

3 pieces of unsolicited advice: Lean in. Stop apologizing. Be kind to yourself. #LeanIn #BISDconnect

Pin It A few weeks ago I was complimenting a female colleague for speaking her mind at a meeting. She sighed heavily and said, "Thanks. I was afraid I'd let my mouth run away with me again."

Why do we do this?! Why do we feel and say these things?! What we have to say is VALUABLE and our voices matter! It's ok to speak up and own it!

I told her about Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In - a book that really changed my professional life. Although this book is written for the working woman, I think it's a great read for anyone. In fact, I shared this title with a teacher who shared it with a BHS student! Powerful stuff! Building female leaders before they even leave high school!

Upon hearing another colleague (who has 2 small children at home) say that she felt bad for having an "off day" in her classroom, I thought of three pieces of advice I would give ANYONE on ANY given day.
  1. Lean in. Is there something you want in life or in your career, but you're too afraid to go after it? LEAN IN! Go get it! What do you have to lose?! No excuses. Reading Sandberg's book really made me look at opportunity in a different way and has given me the confidence to take professional risks I wouldn't have taken before. LEAN. IN. (I say this to myself daily!)
  2. Stop apologizing. I find myself beginning many emails with "I'm sorry for the delayed response" or "I'm sorry I can't meet with you on that day." I have started deleting those apologies and just stating the facts. "I can't meet with you on that day but next week is open." Why do we feel the need to constantly apologize?! It's ok to be kind and direct and NOT apologize constantly.
  3. Be kind to yourself. We ALL have "off days" ... ESPECIALLY as working mothers. We need to be kind to ourselves and know that it's ok to not be able to give 100% every single day. (That's even hard for me to type!) I have to practice what I preach, though. Having a demanding and career and 2 small children at home isn't easy, but I am going to cut myself some slack and allow myself have those 90% days (both at home AND at work!).
I remember making the decision when my oldest child was born to "have it all." I hitched up my big girl pants and literally said out loud in the hallway, "I can have it ALL. I can be a good mom and a good employee and not totally lose it." 

Well. That's only about half right. :) On some days, I nail it. On some days I fail it. But every day I wake up wanting to be the very best version of myself for my kids, for my teachers, for my husband, for my friends ... and that's enough for me. It has to be enough for me or it will never be enough for everyone else in my life.

Lean in. Stop apologizing. Be kind to yourself.

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!