In the past couple of weeks, I have been spending a lot of time working on self development- finishing my book, starting a business, and more. This is such an exciting time for me and as I looked at my most recent blog posts, I realized that I have not been sharing as many "Techy Notes" as I used to in the past.

This has happened for many reasons. One, like many of us in the educational technology field, my primary focus at working has been supporting state testing. (Yes, you need to insert a huge sigh here.) So as a result, I haven't had the time or opportunity to work with my fellow teachers and students. Two, outside of my "day job," there have been a lot of exciting things going on that have been much more fun to focus on.

In the past few weeks, I started sending out a weekly newsletter to my website subscribers. In this newsletter, I share two tech tips each week, highlight blog posts and also share ways to connect and learn with me. If you are interested in subscribing, fill out the form at the bottom of this blog post.

Three Tech Tips

So to help me better focus to my why, I am going to post at least two tech tip blogs here every month. These tech tips will be quick shares that I believe will help you as an educator to better utilize existing tools that you already use. I love new uses for old tools, don't you?

Tech Tip #1 : Did you know that Google Docs does this?

I will admit that I am not a huge Google Docs fan, but this feature is AMAZING, especially for our upper elementary and secondary students. As part of writing my book and contributing to another book, I was thrust back into the world of citations. Yes, I know- thinking about it is truly an overwhelming task for most of us. Tools like Noodle Tools, Easy Bib, and more come to mind quickly, or if you are my age or older, you had to look up how to do this in a book!

Did you know that Google Docs has a Citations Tool built into it? If you didn't, you need to check it out now, Go to Tools and select Citations. From there, choose the type of citations you want to use APA or MLA. Next, you choose the type of resource and it will lead you through filling out what it needed for the citation. It also allows you to do in text citations with a click and after you finish all of your citations, you can click one button and it adds a Bibiliography into your document. So awesome!

Tech Tip #2: Did you know that Google Jamboard allows you to customize backgrounds now?

Google Jamboard is quickly becoming one of my favorite new tools and this is why. You can take any image that you create and upload it as a background in Jamboard. My favorite way to do this is to create my images in Google Slides, but you could honestly use any graphics program to do this, You can also download a Slidesmania background from Google Slides as well.

After creating my image, I download it as a jpeg. Then, I open a Google Jamboard and select Background. From there, you will see any option to add your own. Upload your image and voila, you have added new life to your Jamboard. I love using this feature especially for thinking routines. Check out some of the ways I use thinking routines in Jamboard in my 3/13/2021 post.

Tech Tip #3: Did you know that you can create a collaborative workspace in Google Slides?

I absolutely love using Google Slides. It is one of my favorite programs. There is so much more that you can do with Google Slides beyond just presentations. One of my favorite uses of Google Slides is creating a collaborative workspace. I especially enjoy using this feature while using thinking routines. (See example to the right) If you click the SHARE button, you can change the permissions to ANYONE CAN EDIT. With this setting in place, all of your students can access and write on the slide deck.

When I do this, I usually assign each student a slide based on their student number (for example, 1-30). Then I take the original activity and duplicate it by selecting the slide and using CTRL + D the amount of times that I need for the number of students in the class. By using this capability, all students can see each other's work. You can think of it as a digital carousel sharing. But more than that, this allows students to comment on each other's work afterwards without fear of "messing up" their work by changing the share settings to ANYONE CAN COMMENT.