Monday, October 31, 2016

Two Extensions to Assist Dyslexics

I spent the weekend in Kansas City at a Google Summit. I was super excited to learn from Stacy Behmer who is not only one of my friends, but also a top-notch educator and Google Trainer. I attended one of her sessions which focused on using Google to support readers. She shared so many great ideas, but two stood out as ones I wanted to share with my teachers right away!

The first one is an extension called Open Dyslexic. This extension turns the text on any website into a font that is easier for people with dyslexia to read. It is free and incredibly useful. It works by weighting the bottom of the letters to help keep them from looking like they are floating off the page. Go to the app to learn more!

The other app is called Beeline Reader. This app uses a color gradient to guide your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. You can also use it to change the color of your screen to increase contrast.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How to Conquer Gmail Once and For All!

This month during #TransformationTuesday I was asked to share some basic Gmail tips and tricks. These are the topics covered in our 30 minute session today. I will repeat this session on October 11 at the Freshman Academy and one last time at the high school on October 18. Next month our focus will shift to Google Calendar.

  • Search Gmail
    • Powerful search tool built into Gmail
    • Series of filters you can apply to narrow your search
    • This eliminates the need to create so many “folders”
  • Setup Priority Inbox and Divide Inbox into Read and Unread
    • Click on the Settings button in the upper right corner of Gmail.
    • Select “Settings”
    • Select Inbox tab
    • Inbox type: Select Priority
    • Inbox unread count: Select “Unread items in the first section”
    • Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page
  • Get to ZERO unread messages quickly and painlessly!  
    • Click the dropdown menu on the right that shows a number.
    • Select 50 which is the max
    • Check the box on the upper left. This will place a checkmark next to all of the visible emails (50 at a time).
    • Click the “Mark as Read” option.
    • Repeat this until all of your emails have been marked as “READ.” If you have more than 200 unread emails you will want to continue this process at home so we can keep moving.
Having a low unread message count makes it so much easier to see new emails arrive in your inbox. This greatly reduces the chance of missing the emails that are really important!
*Pro tip: If you open a message and cannot deal with it at that moment, you can check it then mark it as Unread. This will make it reappear in the UNREAD section of your Inbox so you don’t lose track of it.

  • Create a filter to automatically “label” emails as the enter your inbox
    • We are going to set up TWO filters. The first one will be for emails from me (
      • Go to the Search box at the top of the screen in Gmail
      • In the “From” field type: (Don’t worry about any other fields on this page.) Click “Create filter with this search” on the lower right corner.
      • Click the dropdown menu that says “Choose label” and select the “New Label” option
      • Name the filter (something like Tech Integration)
      • You can apply to the previous messages if you wish. (This will make it super easy to find all of my emails for future reference!)
      • Then click “Create Filter”
      • It will appear on the left side of your inbox. Hover over it, click the dropdown arrow, and select a label color that will catch your attention.
      • Now when you get an email from me it will automatically have a label applied to it when it hits your inbox.
Filter Ideas: (People can have multiple labels applied to them)
  • Central Office staff (Central)
  • Your principal/assistant principal (VIP)
  • Parent Contacts 16-17
  • Your department (Social Studies, 4th grade, Math, etc)
  • Tech
  • Newsletters-set up a filter that will automatically mark them as read so you don’t have to deal with them, but you can easily find them when needed (Name after the newsletter)
*Pro tip: There are two ways to apply a label to an email that is already in your inbox. You can keep it in your read/unread sections by checking the box to the left of the message and then click the option to apply a label. Your other option is to archive an email by dragging it to a label.