Thursday, May 29, 2014

So What Exactly is an Innovative Teaching and Learning Specialist?

When I interviewed for my position back in the spring it was advertised as a "Technology Integration Specialist." Why? Because that is the title that most people are familiar with. However, it is actually quite misleading.  Basically, my job to help improve teaching and learning through the use and integration of technology and digital tools. 

While there are numerous teachers who have been immersed in the world of digital learning for a very long time, it is a brand new (and quite scary) world to many others. It is my job to make sure that as Gering Public Schools begins its move to 1:1, that all of the teachers have the skills and resources they need to make the most of the opportunities that they and their students will be given. Technology integration will become seamless and transparent instead of being a sometimes dreaded event where teachers cross their fingers and hope everything works as planned. My goal is to help teachers, students, and administrators become producers of content instead of just consumers. The focus will be on what we can do with the technology, not the technology itself. Learning will continue to be our number one goal.

If you are an educator in Gering here are just some of the things I can do for you: 
  • Assist you as you create your classroom website. Here are the templates I created for both junior high and high school teachers and for elementary teachers. 
  • Help you become a connected educator by showing you the art and science of Twitter and other social networks. Yes, I definitely believe networking is a combination of both! 
  • Work with you to create new and innovative ways for your students to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular topic or skills they have mastered through the use of technology. 
  • Show you how to organize your workflow using digital tools. (This doesn't seem like such a big deal, but knowing how to manage yourself in a digital world is crucial to both you and your students.) 
  • Work side-by-side with you in your classroom as you begin to start using technology with your students. For example, if you are having your students set up blogs I can be there to assist with the technical side of things. 
  • Show you how to use DonorsChoose so you can get great things for your classroom. 
  • Work with you one-on-one or in a small group to teach you about anything related to educational technology that you want to learn about. 
  • Provide you with a wealth of educational technology resources and show you how to begin curating your own resources. 

I am here to support you! Please don't ever think any question is too small or that I am too busy. I'm here to help YOU! Email me at or contact me using the Tech Ticket linked at the top of this page. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Setting Up Gmail: Labels

I am a firm believer that technology should help us work smarter, not harder. This is one reason that I love Gmail! It allows me to easily sort mail, place it in "folders", and add one or more labels. It is possible to filter mail so it is automatically sorted which I will cover in a future post. There is so much that you can do with Gmail, but this post is just going to cover some basics to help get you going in the right direction. The objective is to learn how to control your inbox so it doesn't control you!

One of the most efficient ways to organize mail is to utilize labels. Labels make it easy to search for emails later on. To add a label you need to have an email selected. (To select an email click the box to the left of the email.) One you select an email a toolbar will appear directly above your inbox. Click the label icon and create a new one. It is possible to add multiple labels to one email. For example, if you are dealing with you can add the same label to multiple emails at one time.

Once you create a label it appears off to the left side of the screen as well as in the drop down label menu. You can move emails out of your inbox and house them under the label by either dropping and dragging them to the label or by checking the box next to them, clicking the icon that looks like a folder then selecting the label. Note that this is slightly misleading because Gmail does not have folders. When you add a label the email stays in your inbox, but when you click the "Move To" icon that looks like a folder it moves the email out of your inbox.

The other thing I highly recommend is customizing your inbox. By default, emails are all grouped together which can get confusing and make it more difficult to see which ones need attention. In the screenshot below you can see that I have set my inbox up into four sections: Unread, Need to Reply, Starred, and then Everything Else. This is just the way I have set up my inbox. There are countless options so you can customize it to meet your needs.

Hopefully these tips will help you organize your inbox and gain control over your mail!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hump Day How-To's

Each Wednesday I will share a new tutorial on how to use a different web tool. Check back here for LOTS of useful tips and ideas! Let me know if there is something specific you want to to learn and I will do my best to help you out.