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A Staff That Serves

So, I often write about the incredible school I call home and the people and things that make it such an incredible place. So often, these “things” are collections of moments; some so small and seemingly inconsequential that you might actually not even notice them if you weren’t paying attention. And I try to pay attention. Because other times those moments are great big things that happen — the type of things that cause one to be filled with inspiration and appreciation for the people who are creating them. So I try to pay attention because quite frankly, I don’t want to miss a single tiny or big moment.  I don’t want to miss them because this incredible school, with the incredible people who make these incredible moments happen, really must be shared. Last night, I experienced another of those moments. This one was part of one of those great big moments we have here, one that deserves it’s own post.

For a little backstory, two years ago couple of teachers got together with some students and formed a club called “The Giving Tree“. The club meets monthly to volunteer in the community.  Here is a feature story about this club. Last night the club had one of those events. We went out at 6pm and, for a couple of hours, we helped the “Feed the Hungry” campaign. This is a national campaign and we sorted and packed meal kits which will be delivered to places like Haiti, Dominican Republic, Kentucky…all over the world. There were about 40 of us there, including staff, students and a few parents as well.

Feed

All the credit for these moments, these acts of love and service, go to the wonderful educators that plan and organize them and inspire so many of us to get involved as well. What a difference these teachers are making in the lives of so many others…including myself.

I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to stand together as a group and serve others. It was such a great opportunity to make a difference that had nothing at all to do with school, but everything to do with school. What I mean by that is, there is just something special about working together like this. We laughed, we packed, we got tired, we danced (there was music) and we celebrated as we announced the completion of each box we filled with meals.  All in all, we helped pack enough food to feed aroud 35,000 people. And we did it as a group. A family.

We have had the opportunity to get involved in so many other activities like this as a staff, some as part of the club and some not.  Making cards for veterans at the local assisted living facility. Helping at the local food bank. Working on a house with Habitat for Humanity.  This is a school that serves.  Those moments are big, but inside those big moments are the small, tiny ones. The ones that make you smile. The ones that make you feel like you are a part of something very special; something unique. Something bigger than each of us. We are a staff that serves. That loves. That cares. That makes a difference inside and outside of school.

We are a staff that thrives on making moments and celebrating life. Do you think this spills over into the campus? The kids? The classrooms? What about instruction? Lesson design? Collaboration? You better believe it does. But, those incredible moments I will save for another post….

 

 

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The Teacher in Me

“Why are you writing a lesson plan? You’re an administrator now!” “I know, but I have a lesson to teach Friday and I had this great idea….I guess it’s just the teacher in me”.

That conversation happened at home the other day. I am in my third year as an Assistant Principal and I can tell you without a doubt that I am in love with my role on our campus. There are so many hats to wear and I find myself involved in so many different things. From scheduling to testing, from curriculum to classroom observations, and yes, even things like dismissal duty and textbooks make this the most unique and compelling job I have ever had. The one constant is that none of my days will be the same and I never know what is coming next! But there is one part of my job – one new facet – that is the so near and dear to my heart and I have only just started doing it this year:  Teaching.

So, we have an incredible and dynamic group of teachers who work their tails off with our students. Every day I pop in on a lesson or observe a teacher at work and I am telling you for a fact that these folks would put me to shame as a teacher (and I taught for 15 years!) But even in a building of experts, sometimes it seems like there are never enough hands and we always welcome more rolled up sleeves to help support our kids! So one day, I asked a couple of our teachers if I could work with a group of students who needed some additional time and instruction in reading. My “lunch bunch” was soon born! We met once a week and we read Roald Dahl’s The Witches. We read, we talked, we inferred, we predicted…and we had a blast together! This was such a wonderful time for me because I got to reach back into my “teacher” roots and once again be involved directly with instruction and the other “love of my life” job – teaching kids.

book club

Right now, I have a math “lunch bunch” and we work on their facts and basic concepts. I have been having a blast with this group of kiddos and really value this time with them. I find myself online looking up resources and ideas I can use with my group and asking them at the end of our lesson about their ideas for our next session. A teacher brought me a DVD that we can use during our time together with some very neat learning activities! I found myself really anticipating the day we could finally pop that baby in the DVD payer and get to work!

girls

Before becoming an AP, and even since becoming an AP,  I have found myself researching, asking questions, and learning all I can about the “must do’s” of an effective AP.  I, like so many other APs, am committed to doing the best possible job of supporting my principal and teachers,  and helping lead our campus in the development and execution of a shared vision. Our role is unique, interesting, and important! But I think if I were to share with you a “must do”, it would be to stay involved with teaching and working with kids in some way. Along with having lunch with kids and sitting and talking with them during class visits, this is another great way to build relationships with students in the building. I also think it really enhances my role as an administrator. One thing I never want to do is lose touch with the teacher in me. Not to mention it just makes me a more joyful leader and person.

Being in education is truly an awesome way to spend a life.

Education, Uncategorized

Spring Reflections

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Well, the excitement is in the air. Spring Break is right around the corner, and while this is always a welcome break, it also ushers in a very hectic time!  Just to give you an idea, here is a quick run down of what may be on an administrator’s plate come Spring (and I am sure you could add to this list for your own campus):

  • State Assessments
  • Finalizing Teacher Appraisals
  • Kindergarten Parent Meetings
  • Spring Carnival
  • Book Fair
  • Various Music Programs
  • Employee Recognition Banquet
  • End of Year Volunteer Brunch
  • End of Year Textbook Inventory
  • SSI/Grade Placement Meetings
  • Finalizing ARD/504 Meetings

That pretty much captures the “big things” that I can think of off the top  of my head, which must occur alongside the “little” things that are just part of day to day school. For me, what sometimes gets lost during hectic times like this is dedicated time for reflection. If you also have trouble staying focused and dedicating time for reflection during this busy season, read on and maybe this will be beneficial to you, too!

Recently, I began reading “A Reflective Planning Journal for School Leaders” by Olaf Jorgenson. At the end of this post, I will include more information on it in case you want to check it out. I just recently got this book, so I confess to having only read the February and beginning of March sections (the book is divided by months). I must say though, I am really enjoying this book. Not only does it contain quotes and inspirational vignettes from other leaders (always a plus for me), but it also includes weekly reflective questions with places to stop and jot down your own ideas and thoughts. I have worked ahead a little, mainly because the March section is really on point (he mentioned many of the things in my own list above) and provides various ideas for maintaining your balance during this time. To give you an idea of the format, here is a look at the current pages I am working through:

book

So right away you can see where he prompts the reader to think about some ways to stay focused during this busy time. For example, he asks, “What do you do differently in the busy spring months to balance your workload and maintain visibility…”?  What a great question to reflect on!

So when I think about balancing my workload, I think about organization first. I guess I think about that first because the more organized I can be, the more efficient I am. Last year, for example, I had a white board installed on one wall which I use when arranging and rearranging testing groups during spring testing. I like it because, at a glance, I can look and see timelines approaching as well as who I have assigned to do what, and when. I also like to section off various places in my office for the different tasks that are going on simultaneously during this time. For example, the “cart” on the long wall is for turning in benchmark materials, making it easy for me to wheel it down to the testing room when I am ready to scan and put away this material.

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Other things, such as taking time to get out of the office and breaking my day into “chunks” with manageable pieces are also great ways to stay relaxed and productive. One of my favorite places lately is our newly revamped outdoor garden! This area has been made awesome this year and the kids are doing a great job at planting and caring for this space.  We have a pump for the pond now and a butterfly garden will soon be in full bloom! I have been out a few times this week, hanging out with the kids and just seeing how excited they are. Sure, it goes to visibility, but mainly it’s just fun and I love to be out there with them. Here is a look at that space:

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One of the interesting questions asked in the book was about support staff and what we do to recognize them and lift them up during this particularly busy time. Good question! One that I need to spend some time thinking about. Little things make a big difference.

I also find that stopping and writing on this blog is a MAJOR way that I reflect, maintain balance and stay focused. I have a lot of entries that are not even published yet because I have not done any editing or revising to them— and they may never be published here. Still, writing is always a great way for me personally to keep focused, stay clear-headed, and reflect.

This book is really pretty cool and I like that it provides some reflection and brainstorming structure. I am  once again reminded of the importance of making time to just be with my own thoughts, capture my ideas, and find balance in my busy days.  Sometimes the things we think we have no time for, might actually be some of the most important things.

Do you have any reflection tools that you use? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments! If you might like to check out the book I am using, here is the information:

olaf

Jorgenson, Olaf. A Reflective Planning Journal for School Leaders. Thousand Oaks: Corwin, 2008. Print.

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Teachers and Students Leading Professional Learning

One of the unique ways we have found to support teacher collaboration and growth on our campus this year is through a weekly Staff S’more.  This started out as a one-way communication from admin to teachers, but we quickly discovered that this is the perfect vehicle for teachers to share their ideas, learnings, failures, and risks. It’s also a lot more interesting and has led to many more “conversation starters” than if it’s just admin to teacher. More information on how that came to be can be found in this blog post I wrote a while back.

Teacher Led Professional Learning

So we started off by approaching teachers and inviting them to write the weekly S’More. We were hoping teachers would be willing to share a little bit about what types of things they are doing in the classroom, or want to try, or just what’s on their mind. Soon, teachers began to ask if they could write an upcoming S’More, on a topic that they feel pretty passionate about. For example, next week a teacher will be writing on the topic of teacher burnout.  We are thrilled with the teacher ownership we are seeing in this! Our weekly Staff S’More has enjoyed tremendous success, with lots of views each week and conversations in the hallways that sound something like, “Hey I read your Smore article, can you tell me more about how you...”  It’s one of those rare things that just takes off right from the moment you introduce it and just seems to power itself.

Student Led Professional Learning

This week, one of our fifth grade teachers was working on her S’More feature, which is about Book Clubs.  She had some artifacts, handouts, and descriptions that she wanted to share with teachers along with her article. After a few minutes of discussing the content, she suggested the idea of having her students produce a video, in which they “taught the teachers” about how she implements book clubs. What a fantastically unique idea! Soon, I received the email below, a student-made video explaining to the staff how Book Clubs look in their classroom:

Here is a link to the final S’More for this week, our Book Clubs S’More, which includes the article written by our teacher, the student made video, corresponding instructional ideas from our principal, and additional articles, videos, and other resources that I curated which support the topic.

Throughout this year we have learned alongside each other through this S’More, on topics ranging from formative assessment, differentiation, performance assessments, technology, learning spaces, growth mindset, Genius Hour, math stations, guided reading, and so much more! And now, our plans are to continue to invite students to add to our learning through our weekly Staff S’More.  We are going to ask students to begin sharing their ideas, learnings, failures, and risks…right alongside their teachers. We truly believe that as a learning organization, we can exponentialy grow in our practice by listening to the voices of one another, and that includes our students.  We are very excited for this next phase!

Up Next

In a future S’More edition, our P.E. teacher Mr. Rob will share with the staff about the 21 Days Of Healthy Snacks Challenge, which he launched in his classes this week. He will ask some students to create a corresponding video share to with our staff about how they are engaging with the program. Is the message of healthy eating important to them? Why or why not? How are they implementing this at home, if they are? What challenges have they faced? What solutions can they offer?

I will keep you updated on our teacher and student-led professional learning journey as it continues to unfold this year! What unique ways have you found to infuse teacher and student voice within your learning community? We would love to learn from you!

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Keep Driving

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This is for all those who are facing uphill battles.

For all those who are facing challenges beyond what many of us face.

For all those who love someone who wakes up every day and overcomes.

This is for all those who teach someone who doesn’t learn the same as the others.

For all those who wonder if what they do will ever be enough.

For all those who spend time designing a different kind of way, for a different kind of kid.

This is for all those who say it can’t be done.

For those who give up on the ones who take too much time.

For those who believe that everyone has to take the same route to reach a certain destination.

Five years ago, my daughter and I listened as her therapist explained the challenges she would have in learning to drive. How those who are on the autism spectrum can have great difficulty with spatial awareness, timing, and reaction speed. How if she really wanted to learn, it would likely take more time, effort, and creative instruction than one might normally require. That it wasn’t impossible, but it would require patience, small chunks of learning, and much simulated practice.

Living in our town means no public transportation. Driving means independence. We didn’t see a choice. If there were any possibility of it being done, we had to try. We put on our toughest tough, or grittiest grit, our most determined determine. We began….

I first signed my daughter up for lessons at a local place where most students completed their driver education. She went to every lesson. She split time as a passenger, then driver, during the one hour lessons. At the end of the two months, she wasn’t ready and needed more instruction. The instructor agreed to take her on individually for extended time, and said he would meet us on the weekends for an hour lesson (at hourly rate of $80). We agreed. Some weekends, he would be there waiting in the parking lot of the High School, and she would have her lesson. Other weekends, he didn’t show up, and we would drive back home — she a little dejected. The last time we did that, she said, “He doesn’t come because he doesn’t think I can”. That was the last time we went.

I called many companies who offer drivers education to youth. I called companies who offer it to adults. Finally, one of them seemed interested in this challenge. The person on the other end of the line said, “We have an instructor who’s day job is working in an independent living center for adults with autism. He might be perfect for you”. And so, our drivers ed journey, finally, began.

He said she might be able to learn, and she might not. That some have that capacity. That others, simply, don’t. That he would need to spend time with her to make that determination, and that if it was not something he felt she could do, that I needed to be okay with hearing that.

The next weekend, we met this instructor in the McDonalds parking lot. I rode in the back seat and for two hours, she drove in and out of cones in a parking lot, pulled into slots, backed out, turned, and signaled. They talked, he asked questions, she made jokes. Getting to know each other. She was still terrified of driving, but wanting to learn at the same time. Our two hour parking lot lesson ended in an hour and a half with these words:

She Can Learn.

He said she would need two hour chunks of time, behind the wheel, weekly. He said he would start out in parking lots, then move to side streets, then busy neighborhoods, then freeways. He said she had good skills, good instincts, and good judgement. He said she lacked confidence. He said she would need to be put into situations that would require her to make decisions quickly, to reroute, to anticipate others, and to stay calm. He said she needed confidence. He also said it would cost $100 per lesson. We said, “Where do we sign up”.

Every Sunday for the next two years, we met him in that McDonalds parking lot. He never missed a session. Then one day, he said the words we had often thought really might never be said:

She’s ready to take her test.

The following week, she passed her driving test. The same week, she moved into a dorm to begin classes at a junior college. She mapped out routes to her most necessary places: Wal Mart for groceries, the gas station, the pharmacy, and her favorite clothing store. She has spent the last year doing that local driving and I have never been so proud. Until two days ago:

Over the past year, I have made the two hour round trip to her dorm to pick her up for the weekends. Because it is so far. Because it’s almost all highway. Busy highway. And then on Sundays, deliver her back to the dorm. Until two days ago.

I came home from work on a normal Thursday. As I pulled onto my street, I noticed a car that looked a lot like hers. I assumed my son’s new girlfriend must drive the same car. I pulled in, got out, and came inside. And then I saw my daughter, sitting in the living room watching TV and eating a pizza she had ordered.

“How did you get here”?

“I drove mom. Like everyone else does“.

I can’t begin to describe the feeling inside me as I listened to her explain the past two hours of her life:

I don’t like having to wait for you to transport me every weekend. I have thought about this for a while. This morning, I got up and decided it was time for me to drive home. I drove to McDonalds to get a drink, and then I pulled into a parking space.  I sat there for a long time, maybe thirty minutes, trying to decide if I could do it. Trying to tell myself I could. Thinking of all the things that might go wrong. I was just about to turn around and go home, and then I decided, no. I’m going to do it. I’m going to drive home. So I did.

I want you to know, I could literally picture her sitting in that parking lot, wrestling with the fears, the thoughts, the second-guessing that has pretty much defined her entire life. The same things she felt in that other McDonalds back when she first began this journey several years ago. I imagined her sitting there, talking to herself, and coming to a fork in the road. This decision was one that I think she somehow knew would define things for her, going forward.  It was her that wanted to do it. And it would be up to her whether to bravely take that step, or drive back to the dorm.  She decided that she just didn’t want to be “unable” anymore. Just like she did three years ago. And so, with shaky hands but conviction, she pulled onto the road, turned left instead of right, and drove home.

Had I known she was doing this, I’d of had a heart attack! Sometimes maybe it’s better to not know.

The confidence in her since this simple act of driving home happened is incredible. Friday, I got home from work and she was not here. She arrived about an  hour later, saying she called a friend back at the dorm and invited her to go hang out. She drove back to the dorm, picked up her friend, and the two went and got nails done, haircuts, and a lip piercing (that one I’m not so fond of). After dropping off her friend at the end of this full day, she drove back home, again. No worries. No fears. Well, maybe a little.

I think we have just turned a corner. Again. She keeps doing that, this girl of mine. Turning corners. Taking back roads to get to her destination. Taking her time. Going over overpasses, and under freeways, on her way to her destination. Success. Sometimes it’s a straight shot. Other times, the road is blocked, and she has to find another route. But she always does.

So to all of you, Keep Driving.

road2

 

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Say What You Wanna Say: Blogging

“Nothing’s gonna hurt you, the way the words do, when they sit underneath your skin. Kept on the inside, with no sunlight, sometimes a shadow wins. I wonder what would happen if you say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out. Honestly…I wanna see you be brave”! – Sara Bareiller

The above song really resonates with me, as someone who is not by nature a brave person when it comes to putting myself out there to be judged. I think it is also the perfect song for those who might be considering starting a blog, but are a little intimidated or shy.

Reflection is a powerful thing. One of the best ways I have found for reflecting on my own thoughts, ideas and practices is through blogging. When I decided last year that I wanted to give blogging a shot, I have to admit it was very scary! I thought many times, “What do I have to say that would be so important or interesting to others”? “I am not smart enough, I don’t write well enough, I don’t have anything to talk about that others would care to read…..” Those were (and still are, somewhat) the thoughts that ran through my mind.

I went through a lot of trial and error before finding a way that works for me and settling into a routine. I also learned some basic things that helped make my posts more interesting and helped me to clarify my own thinking.  Below are a few blogging ideas that help me:

1. Selecting a platform. There are many tools out there for setting up and maintaining a blog. I tried different sites and finally I settled on Word Press. It is easy for me to navigate and has a big variety of templates to choose from. It is a free site, but I have since decided to pay for the pro version to give myself a few more choices and perks. But I did stick to the free version for about a year. I also like it because it allows me to include different things such as videos, pictures, and embedded tweets that support my topic — in very simple ways. I am not a computer programmer nor a code writer! So I needed easy.

2. Frequency. How often are you going to write? This varies for everyone depending on your goals. I was very scattered in the beginning and not consistent, but eventually I settled into a routine of weekly. I usually write on the weekend. Sometimes this varies but I do try to be consistent. I have found that people will most likely follow a blog if it is updated regularly. On one hand, I’m not so much concerned with how many people read what I write. But one the other hand, this is not a journal in my nightstand. It is on the web, and I chose to do this because I think sharing with others and receiving feedback from them is very powerful for me as a learner. We tell our students all the time to “keep the reader in mind” when writing; this is no different for me as a blogger. Consistency is an important component for you as a blogger.

3. Choosing A Topic. This is perhaps the biggest area of struggle for me. I love to write, but sometimes I just have no ideas for my blog that week. What I have found is that I need to take time to reflect on my week. What went good? What can I improve on? What did I learn this week? I mean, that is the purpose of writing for me anyway, to reflect. So I can’t just sit down at my laptop and think up a topic without first going through my own reflection process. Throughout the week, I ask myself those questions and jot down my thoughts on paper. From there, a topic emerges that I want to explore more in depth, and that is how my blog ideas come to be.

4. Post Length. When I first began blogging, it was all words. I did break it up into paragraphs, but when you visited my site, you would see nothing but a long essay looking post. Not very inviting. I learned quickly that I needed to be more succinct. I don’t need to take five sentences to express a simple idea. I still struggle with this! One thing that helps me is to write my post, but then save it as a draft. Later, I go back to it, and reread it. I always find places to cut something out or re-word something in a less wordy way. I do not publish until I am satisfied that I have expressed myself in a clear but concise way.

5. Structuring The Post. Words are great, but your readers will want to see other interesting things along the way. Including such elements as video, pictures, or even embedded tweets within your post is a great way to improve the visual appeal and add depth to your writing. For example, when I wrote about choosing my platform, I included a link to the WordPress site, and I included it right on the words WordPress in my sentence. I did this because it adds layers to what I am saying. I am thinking about my reader, and they may want to further investigate it. They can Google it themselves, but it is much more convenient for them if I include the link right there where I am writing about it. One important point: Choose your links carefully. I went through several articles on the web about WordPress, but settled on just linking to the site itself. I think that is the most practical resource to share there.

6. Blog Roll. I follow and read a lot of other blogs. I think it is important to share those resources with my own blog visitors because it points them to other writers and other ideas. Sharing who I read and what blogs I follow tells my readers something about my own style, interests, and thought provokers…which adds substance and transparency. I think if you are going to write a blog and share it, you have to be the real you.

7. Give Credit. If I write a post about an activity I did or a book I read, I include the name of the person that inspired that. I include the author, or the colleague, or the PLN member that first pointed me in that direction. I do this out of courtesy and also because it points my reader to another source of learning and someone to follow up with besides just me. A recent post I wrote was about making #GoodCallsHome, and I included links to the Twitter hashtag as well as to the two people who were the inspiration for me to join the movement.

8. Publicizing Your Blog. The first time I tweeted out a blog post I had written, it was scary! I was opening the door for readers all over the world…would they like it? Would they just ignore it? What if nobody read it or what if I received a negative comment? I had to just be brave and do it. After all, I wanted feedback, and sometimes it can’t all be positive! But that is okay because that’s how we all grow. I learned a couple of important things here. One, I needed to include a few relevant hashtags to make sure my blog post was seen by the right audience. For example, if I am writing about a new technology I tried, I will likely use the #edtech hashtag in my tweet. If I am writing about a pirate lesson (Teach Like A Pirate), I will include the #tlap hashtag. I try not to include more than 3 hashtags in my tweet, because it can look like spam.

I also learned that there are just so many people tweeting out there, and posting a link to my blog one time is not enough. I need to post it a few times, over a few days. I also need to tweet it out at the right times. Some days and times are better than others (I don’t know why but that is what I have discovered). Friday afternoons are a good day/time. Monday nights during prime time are also good. Saturday mornings before noon are exceptional times for me. Tweeting my blog after about 9pm or before 10am (CT) are not.

Final word about tweeting out your post: I tag a few people in my tweet and here is how I decide whom to include: If I mentioned someone, or if what I have written about is a topic that I think a certain member(s) of my PLN would enjoy reading, or is similar to what a certain person often writes/thinks about, I will tag them. I do not tag people just for the hope that they will retweet it. I think that is dis-ingenuous. That being said, it makes me happy when my post announcement is retweeted because it will be seen by people who might not otherwise see my own tweet, so it is a good thing and I do appreciate it. But I try not to abuse that or take advantage of my PLN in that way.

9. Give Your Readers Tools. When I set my blog up, I learned that I needed to include a way for my readers to share with others and to give me feedback in simple and quick ways. Make sure you turn on comments! When I receive a comment on a piece, I try to reply to it in a timely manner, thanking them for their input and thoughts on what I have written. I think two-way communication is so important here because I am hoping to open a door for conversation. Of course, there have been a lot of my posts that have received zero comments, and that is okay. I made peace with that. I just decided that the post must have just been so great that nobody has anything to add! HA! Also, it is helpful to include a few tools for the reader to make reading and sharing easy. I have a button where readers can follow my blog, getting updates automatically when I post. There are tools where readers can share it on Twitter or other social media very easily.

9. Patience. When I first starting blogging, hardly anyone read it. I did not receive many comments either. After a while though, my readership grew. Now, I have people who follow my blog from all over the world, and they receive an email when I update it. If they enjoyed the post, they share it with others, tweet it, comment on it….but this took a lot of time. Be prepared to feel like you are just writing for yourself and nobody is reading it, and that is okay. It will come with time.

10. About Those Comments. Be careful what you wish for! Just kidding (kind of). Most of my posts have been well received, but there have been a few that received some negative feedback. At first I was mortified! But then I realized that this type of thing is just another way to push my thinking, to open my mind up to alternative views and shed a light on different perspectives, and so I now embrace all my feedback, both positive and otherwise. You just cannot write a blog where everyone in the world is going to agree with all you say; we are all different. If you really want the feedback and you want your blog to be a true way for you to reflect, share, learn and grow, then you have to be prepared for some humbling moments! My PLN is incredible and they inspire me daily, but they also challenge my thinking and they point out things I could improve upon or ideas I had not considered. They champion me when I am doing something great, but they also will very quickly throw up a stop sign or call me on the carpet.  I value this. And my willingness to put myself out there for it is just…well, necessary.

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So that’s it, my top ten tips for getting started with blogging. There is a lot more and you will discover that as you go along.  I think the biggest piece of advice is to just be brave and go for it. “Let your words be anything but empty”… How big is your brave?

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Linking Evernote, Twitter, IFTTT and YouTube

So today, my learning at #NT2t (a Twitter Chat for educators who are new to Twitter that I co-mod) continued for several hours as I began to learn and play around with Evernote and a little with IFTTT. Here are a few things I learned about. Things like linking my Twitter activity with Evernote, as well as how to send videos to Evernote.
I’m also going to describe how the Evernote Web Clipper add-on allows you to send a webpage to your Evernote, and how you can use IFTTT to automatically send Tweets to Evernote instead of emailing them.

Before doing anything else, make sure you have an Evernote account. Next, I suggest you add your Evernote email address to your Gmail contacts. I have an Evernote email? Yes,you do! I do this so that I do not have to remember that address (it is long and weird). You can find it by going to your Evernote settings and scrolling down until you see your Evenote Email. Copy it to your clipboard, and then paste it into your Gmail contacts.

Sending a Tweet to Evernote:
Let’s say you see a Tweet that you want to send directly to Evernote. Just click the 3 dots (if in Tweetdeck) that appear below the Tweet. Next, click on “email this Tweet”. Then when your email default program (mine is Gmail) opens up, you go to the “To” field. When you begin to type your Evernote email, it will auto fill after the first couple of letters (because you added it as a contact). You can now send the Tweet to Evernote and it will save in “All Notes”.

You can also send the Tweet directly to a specific notebook within Evernote! The way to do that is to add @NOTEBOOKNAME to the end of the subject line. Example: If the notebook I want to send this tweet to is named “Reading”, then in the subject line of the email, I type @Reading at the end of the subject. Viola! The Tweet is sent directly to my Reading notebook in Evernote. Here is a link to my Note in Evernote, which I emailed to my “How To Use Evernote” notebook!

Evernote Note Link

This wonderful bit of brilliance came to me from Rik Rowe, see the tweet below:

 

Evernote Web Clipper
I downloaded the web clipper (you can find this easily here: Evernote website). Now, let’s say I am on a webpage, reading a blog, and I want to send this to Evernote. All I have to do is click on the Evernote web clipper from my Internet tools menu. It will pop up with options for me to name the notebook I want to send this page to. If I don’t have one set up for this particular item (for example, I don’t have a notebook for blogs yet), I can just leave it as it appears . I can also include tags (which will help me locate it later based on a few chosen words). Here is a picture of what comes up when I select the web clipper on a page I was reading about Concept Based Curriculum:

web Clipper

Notice how I can choose to Save Article to Evernote. I can also use the drop down menu to change the notebook, if I don’t want to save it to the “Essential Questions” one that automatically appeared. I can also type in tags, and comments if I wish. It will then send to my Evernote.

Evernote With YouTube
So I really wanted to know how to send a YouTube video to Evernote. After playing around for a while, this is what I settled on:

yotubeUnder the YouTube video, select “Share” and then choose “Email”. From there, do as we discussed above. Begin typing your Evernote email, and it will auto-fill the rest of your address. In the subject field, type @NOTEBOOKNAME if you have a particular notebook to send this to, and click on send. The YouTube video now goes to your Evernote. It appears as an embed, but when you click the video itself, it takes you to the YouTube page where the video begins to play. I have not figured out a way to bypass YouTube and play within Evernote. Here is a link to my “Music” note that I created in Evernote, where I recently sent a “Rainforest Sounds” video:

Music Notebook

That link will open the note, but it will not play from the note. You will need to select “View in Evernote” which is a big green button on the top left of that note, you can’t miss it. Once you do that, you can select “Join Notebook” and you will have access to that notebook and videos.

IFTTT with Evernote
The final thing I did today, was search for and activate a recipe on IFTTT (If This Then That). Now, if you don’t know anything about this, you can still do it! Just visit the website here. You will click on “Join” and set up a free, quick and easy account for yourself.

Next, browse the available “recipes” (which means things you can do with it). I typed “Evernote” in the search bar. I found a recipe someone already made which will take Tweets you favorite and send them directly to Evernote. Wow! So if I don’t want to email the Tweet, I just want to automatically send it to Evernote, I can do this with this recipe. I clicked on “Use this recipe”. I had no idea what was going to happen, but amazingly this was simple! It told me I needed to activate both Evernote and Twitter on the IFTTT site. This is as simple as clicking “Activate” right there on the screen. It then said the recipe was stored. I was thinking, “that’s it”? Can’t be that easy! So I went to Twitter, I clicked favorite on a random tweet, then went to my Evernote. Sure enough, a notebook was there labeled IFTTT Twitter. I clicked the notebook and there was the tweet. I do not know how to create my own recipe’s yet. But that is okay, because for now I can use recipes that are already there (thank you wonderful people) until I have a need for one not yet created.

By the way, there are other recipes in IFTTT that you might like. Such as “Automatically add all my favorited tweets to Google Drive” or “Automatically send a thank you welcome message to new followers”. I know, amazing! But that is another post.

iftttTo view the Storify of the entire #NT2t chat this morning on all this learning, visit this link.  So there you have a few ideas about these programs, and some basic things you can try. I am so excited to have learned all of this today! I hope you enjoy!