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Google Calendar: Sync and Swim

This article is the fourth in my weekly series for fundamental Google Training: Unit 5

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Swimming through the waters of today’s busy multi-tasking lifestyle can not only be stressful but also mindboggling. Don’t you wish there was a way to ease that stress, and keep you sailing smoothly with staying on top of your tasks at your fingertips? Now you can with the use of your smartphone and syncing  with Google Calendar.

Using a calendar may seem like a no-brainer, but just using a calendar is not the same as utilizing it. What is the difference? Having a desk calendar, pocket calendar or on your computer can be handy, yet imagine if your calendar went with you everywhere, when you are away from your desk, home or work and be reminded of important events and remind other people as well. This is the essence of Google Calendar, and why the simple step of syncing it to your smartphone can make you that much more organized, aware and simplify things for you. You can utilize it for reminding you of your daily tasks without forgetting to check it before you go.

If you are not already using  Google Calendar, it is easy to set one up through your Gmail account by pulling up you apps. Here you will see the app for Google Calendar:download (1)

The easiest way to get started is to watch a Google Calendar tutorial. Getting it set up will be the most time you spend, and once you have it, voila, you will be able to add, delete, share and make changes with a click, and stay on top of tasks. You will even be able to invite people to events that you create. Now wouldn’t it be convenient to take that calendar with you everywhere you go?

Sync it in two simple steps for either an Android or iPhone:

  1. Go to the Google Play or Apple App Store. Search and download the Google Calendar App. (As seen above)
  2. Open the app, and sign in with your Gmail account. Now you have your calendar everywhere go.

Next, try setting a reminder for events. Your phone will buzz you for whatever time you set before that event, and keep you on time for all your next important meeting and appointments. Who ever thought that syncing would one day be the way to help you swim along in your life, easing the stress, and keeping you more organized than ever. Thanks to Google Calendar, even on the choppiest of days you will not forget the tasks at hand helping get you through whatever storm life presents you.

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed.

Technology Integration Specialist

 

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Selling Parents on Social Media, Consider Twitter.

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Whatever you think you are doing with social media, or lack thereof, to get parents on board with you as a teacher could be wrong.

A classic mistake teachers make is assuming parents will be impressed by what is going on in the classroom with a snazzy website of your own. Your school already has a website to inform parents, you send out progress reports, and invite your parents to all the fun activities that go on in the school, probably using email to do so….why would you set up another site for this purpose?

Social media can be the spot where you are missing out on promoting yourself to parents. As a teacher, you might think Edmodo, Google Classroom, Moodle, or some other form of classroom management site for students to do their assignments and collaborate, might be the place to get parents involved and excited. These tools might help replace some classic paper reports and help with classroom management,  but this is not going to “sell” yourself to parents.

One platform that you can use to make that sell is  Twitter. Twitter is where you can turn from informing your audience about what is going on in the classroom, to actually promoting yourself as a teacher, and keep parents in a happy state and less complaining when it comes to progress report time.

Three Simple Steps to Start:

  1. Set up a Twitter just for your parents, send a note or an email out about it and invite them to join.
  2. Ask permission to tweet about their child and their accomplishments.
  3. Keep your phone handy, and start snapping pictures, and start tweeting about the good stuff.

Three Things to Remember:

  1. Remember to tweet all positive, and tweet often, more than once a day. A couple in the am, and a few in the pm is good, 4 or 5 times a day.
  2. Tweet equally among the students, even if you have a few superstars, make sure you include all you have permission to tweet about.
  3. Keep it general, don’t post scores, just smiles, and what the kids are doing and working on.

Selling yourself as a teacher to your parents doesn’t seem like a thing you are comfortable with? Unfortunately, it is a task as a teacher you must do to a point, so why not keep it simple, and just tweet out the fun, and let the school take care of the rest.

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed.

 

Whatever your latest VICE, think digital

 

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Troye Sivan

 

What does Troye Sivan, Di Vinci and Jack Johnson have in common? Nothing except they all have a headline story on separate websites under the umbrella of one media company known as  VICE Media. Troye Sivan, the soul swooning Aussie, is the featured artist under Bullet, a site for fashion, music, culture, etc… Jack Johnson is FIGHTLAND‘s feature story about the heavy weight’s final pardon and Di Vinci once again makes news on the creators project, a partnership between VICE and Intel to promote support for the arts in technology.

Why should you care? Unless you live under a rock, you might want to take note that VICE Media is a company worth over $4 Billion, that started as an online zine, that appeals mainly to a younger, hipper audience than any other media source online. How do they do it? It’s all about the content and the amount of content, all things digital and online keeps the overhead way, way down.

As Wall Street had an abysmal end to cyber-week in consumer sales, what did one of the most visual losers, Disney, do? They turned to digital media and now own 10% of VICE Media, doubling their stake in the social media market for youth. Perhaps the idea is if consumers are not buying products in stores, online or otherwise, maybe the best backup plan is to invest in information, content based for that matter instead.

Again, why do you care? Because web-based digital media is a field that is not only growing but could be the ultimate game changer in how we economically survive in this country. Take VICE media, they have been able to grow a company and produce a product to consumers that practically cost them nothing. The product is information, and presenting it with more content that is up to date and relevant to their audience over others. They have also been able to promote products that consumers can purchase by supporting links to companies that reflect the information they are spewing. Who cares where the company is based, VICE still profits through advertising, even if the company is in China practically bankrupt.

Today’s grade school students already recall more about how they made their Christmas list for products promoted through social media sites rather than TV, movies or word of mouth. And there is no guarantee that even the popular toys, games, gadgets and devices that consumers want are from a company that exists in the same country that the social media site is based in that promoted it. The one more likely to make a profit will be the media site it through it’s content connected to advertising and partnering with the product’s parent company.

Next time you hear someone talking about indulging in their latest music, digital, or electronic vice ask them how they found out about it. Dollars to donuts, chances are through social media. The digital world of social media may just be the vice itself we soon have will have to partake in just to understand what it is we will want as consumers if not already, but very soon in the future.

 

 

Busy or Productive? How Technology can Help Teach the Difference

 

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Jon Reeve’s motion picture: Dazed and Confused, 1993.

 

Every day you teach, you have moments where the students are buzzing in your class with books, notebooks, pencils, pens, markers, and erasers flying. You might have a student at your desk asking questions and ones turning in papers or sitting in groups working on projects.

You get a small euphoric high off the excessive learning that is taking place as you get ready to tell the class to wrap it up and can’t wait to see them tomorrow with all the assignments due, and what wonderful feedback that you will be expressing as your students leave clutching their books smiling with eyes gleaming and brains full of new and exciting knowledge to be applied and shared.

Yet, the next day comes, and your class shows up unprepared, homework unfinished, forgetful of what they learned the day before and as if the crawled into a black hole of despair and lost all hope of passing your class at all. How does this happen?

It happens because even though it appears your class was buzzing with learning, they were actually just busy, and the productivity of learning is only proven through hard evidence, the unfinished homework, or test review they failed in class.

So how do you keep the sense of your students being busy confused from being productive? One way to do so is by using some technology tools that relate the productivity in a timely factual manner, that cannot be argued with.

Some of the more helpful products out there are classroom management sites, like  Edmodo and Google Classroom. These sites allow teachers to set up a virtual class, so to speak, where not only can discussions and groups be assigned, but work can be turned in, revised and graded. When students get on these sites to work, they will be immersed in the lessons you not only share with them but have to supply you with the feedback to ensure that the learning is taking place without just “feeling” like it is in your class. It is a way to organize the evidence without hoping it is just going to happen in a random notebook students walk out the door with.

The other added benefit to organizing student work online in a virtual classroom is that they can do it from anywhere there is internet access. This means that once the students walk out the door, it is less likely that they will lose the work, or have to be reminded the next day what it was you went over in class to keep them on track.

Without knowing it, by setting up a virtual classroom you are now teaching your students the benefit of getting organized by participating in a forum where there are specific discussions, assignments, and deadlines. You have just led students across that bridge from being busy in your class to being productive in your class.

 

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed.

Technology Integration Specialist

Learn more: Google Classroom

https://www.edmodo.com/

A Digital Show Up; better than a no show..

Staying connected or showing up, is there a difference? Yes, but who has time to sit and have a conversation, or meet a friend for coffee when they want to discuss their divorce, or stop to visit a sick Aunt in the hospital?

Let’s face it, we spend a great deal of time as Americans on devices that keep us connected with text messaging, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and online, but are we just linked by devices, and not truly appreciating our friends and family?

Americans spend up to 12 hours a day on digital devices and media staying connected, the statistics may be alarming:

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Connected, yes, but showing up? We have our phone or smartwatch and the tv on in the background while maybe working on the computer, or streaming shows on a device while we make dinner. And even though you text or chat for a minute with a friend or family, do you really make time to truly have a conversation with someone when they need you? Do you show up?

Showing up is one of the most important things you can do in life and knowing the difference between staying connected to someone and showing up can be crucial. Caring is good, but not enough, as Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter explains, “a great idea is not enough.” Kanter’s number one rule for inspiring positive change? Showing up.

Consider this, why not use the devices that you have become so comfortable with to show up and talk, chat, converse, pontificate, share pearls of wisdom, and offer your support? It is easier than you think with Skype and now Google Hangouts, you can do face time anytime, and actually show up.

An excellent example, when one young hospital bound Dever Broncos fan wanted to see star player Demaryius Thomas, he showed up, even if he couldn’t physically be there.

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Imagine how this infirmed boy felt. Better than just a text from Demaryius, right?

Next time you think you may not be able to show up for someone, maybe you can, just take a minute to learn how to do some face time on your device, and soon you can show up for people, even if you physically can’t be there, you can digitally, and really make the connection that counts.

Robin Stockmar M.Ed.

To learn more about digital face time:

https://support.google.com/hangouts

http://www.skype.com