Sunday, April 13, 2014

'Sakes Alive, It's Google Drive!

I'm linking up with Tech with Jen for her Google Teacher Training Bootcamp! This has been a fabulous experience! I've learned so much from some amazing teacher/bloggers. If you aren't already, I encourage you to join this linky! Just be ready to learn at ton and take away some fabulous Google resources for the classroom!

I don't even know where to start with Google Drive! It has taken me several weeks to finally decide what I wanted to focus my post on. Let me just tell you this was no easy task. There are a ton of topics for me to choose from and I use all of them to help me be more efficient in the classroom and with my writing. 

If you are interested in using Google in your classroom, I feel like this is the best place to start. This is the base for all online collaborative work. This is where the web based documents are created, shared and multiple people can work on a project all at the same time.  This includes word documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.  And my ultimate favorite Forms! 

This is where I've decided to focus. You can use Forms for a variety of purposes in the classroom. You can create surveys, have students peer edit,  become a paperless classroom, and grade more effective and efficiently! 

Forms allow you to collect all kinds of information and all the information gets stored on one spreadsheet for your convenience! Then it can be turned into a visual graphic or you can add formulas to help calculate grades! Wow! Can't get anymore efficient than that! This type of grading is also timely and can offer formative feedback sooner! This. Is. Amazing! 

Here's a quick video to walk you through the basics. 

Hope you enjoy and please know there is so much more then I could possibly post in one post! (Aint' nobody got time for that) so I leave you with the basics and the knowledge to search for all Google Drive has to offer!

Friday, April 4, 2014

If They Would Just Put Forth The Effort...

In our collaboration meetings, I keep hearing, "If they would just put forth the effort they would be fine. They're smart kids if they try."  I even think I'm guilty of uttering these very words, myself. That's actually when it hit me. As I uttered these words, my brain was screaming "We're not giving them the incentive to put forth the effort." At the time I still hadn't fully processed this statement and knew I couldn't speak it.

Just the other day, during our 4th grade collaboration meeting we discussed our failing students. It was said that they don't even try and if they'd just followed the study guide they would get A's because it's just like the test. Just the day before we'd met with our 6th grade team and a similar issue was discussed. At this point, I had fully processed that meeting before and I couldn't contain my ideas any longer.

I finally asked, "What if the study guide didn't look like the test?"

The teacher looked at me with a perplexed look and said, "What do you want me to do? Just not do a study guide?"

I could feel her confused tension right away and scrambled to alleviate that stress by adding more words. Let me just tell you right now, that does not work. I did manage to throw out some ideas. And I'm fortunate to have a boss that attempts to understand my craziness so he bantered ideas with me to take the unintended pressure off the teacher.

What I've learned from this experience is, everybody wants to learn. It is instinctively a part of our nature. This is how we continue to grow and evolve. What we, as educators, need to figure out is this; What can we do to ignite that drive?  If we want these kids to put forth effort we need to give them a reason to do so. We spend so much precious time thinking for our kids we forget to let them do it themselves. Therefore, they forget how. That's not their fault. Practice makes perfect, right?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sharing Google Calendar

We've all been there. We all know what's it's like to try to schedule meetings, events, and projects. Now it can be done in a more efficient manner.  By sharing your Google Calendar with your students, colleagues, and parents scheduling just became a breeze. (Well, maybe that''s exaggerating a bit ;) ) but it can make life a whole lot easier. 
Google Calendar is not just for personal use. You can create a variety of calendars to share with different groups of people. Here are some examples of group calendars that could be used at your school:
  • Class calendar for class-related events such as activities, class meeting times, testing schedules and lesson objectives
  • Homework calendar with detailed descriptions of homework assignments, links to relevant materials and due dates
  • School-wide holiday or academic schedule with in-service days, holidays and other scheduling anomalies
  • Group project deadlines and milestones for a group or team to track workload
  • School sporting event schedules that can be shared with the entire school
Calendar sharing options in Google Apps:
If you use your personal email address with Google Calendar, you have the option to keep a calendar private or to share it. However, with Calendar for Google Apps you have a third sharing option. You can choose to keep a calendar private, to share it with the world, or to only share it with members of your domain. If you share it with members of your domain, the calendar can only be accessed with those who have an “’ account.
With the sharing options available, it is easy to create a school calendar with varying levels of access – you can specify certain users that can make changes, others that can only see the calendar, or set a broad access setting for the public or individuals at your school.
The following are the different types of access levels you can grant to individuals, users at your school and the public (everyone in the world). 
  1. Completely private calendar
    You can set your calendar to be completely private so that none of your calendar information, not even free/busy information, will be available to anyone except those people you specifically add to share your calendar.
    You can use this setting for the entire world (Do not share with everyone) and/or for your school Apps domain (Do not share with everyone in my domain).
  2. Limited calendar view: free/busy information
    Sometimes you want people to be able to check your schedule and see only the times you're busy. In the free/busy view, someone will only see blocks of time marked as busy for times when you have entries in your calendar. They will not be able to see the name of the event or any of the event details.
    This view can be useful to share as an appointment availability calendar that you could share with students or parents. This way the students or parents could see when you are available without knowing any of the details of your schedule.
  3. Full calendar view: show all event details
    With this setting, other users can see your calendar and events and invite you to events, but cannot see events on your calendar that have been marked as private.
    This is a common view for school-related calendars that are shared with users at your school domain. For that calendar, your colleagues or students would be able to see the events and details, but you could also add private events such as conferences or sensitive meetings that cannot be viewed by colleagues or students at your school.
  4. Full calendar access: make changes to events
    This setting is for sharing with individuals only. You can add specific people to a calendar who have access to see and change all events, including private ones.
    This can be useful for team calendars as it grants multiple people the ability to add and edit events on a single calendar. For example, a team project calendar could function better if each of the team members could check availability and add meetings instead of just one person. It would also allow the team members to edit the events, allowing each person to add to event descriptions, like an agenda.
    Please note: You cannot grant someone outside your domain this level of access to your primary calendar (this is the calendar created by default with your Google Apps account). However, any secondary calendars can be shared, such as a calendar created specifically for homework, school projects, school sporting events, etc.
  5. Full calendar ownership: Make changes to events AND manage sharing
    The final privilege you can grant is the ability to manage sharing access for a calendar. This setting also is for sharing with individuals only. With this setting, an individual would essentially become an owner of the calendar, as they would be able to add, remove and edit events as well as add, remove and edit the sharing settings of the calendar.
    This is a setting to be treated with care. For example, someone with this permission setting would be able to change the sharing-access level of individuals or change if the calendar is viewable to the domain or public.
    Please note: You cannot grant someone outside your domain this level of access to your primary calendar

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Good Night Animal World - Blog Tour & Review

Good Night Animal World Blog Tour - Button Final

About the Book

Good Night Animal World by Giselle ShardlowTitle: Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Bedtime Story | Author: Giselle Shardlow | Illustrator: Emily Gedzyk | Publication Date: September 20, 2013 | Publisher: Company: Kids Yoga Stories LLC | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 2.5 to 6 years

Summary: Say good night to the animals of the world! Calm your mind and body before bedtime by taking a journey around the world with this kids yoga storybook. Join six Kids Yoga Stories characters as you perch like a bald eagle, crouch like a tiger, and curl up like a sloth. The book includes a list of Kids Yoga Poses and a Parent Guide with tips on creating a successful bedtime experience. Learn something new, explore movement, and unwind together before bedtime!

I can't stress enough how amazing this story was for my daughter. At the age of 3 she was diagnosed with developmental delays in speech and language and sensory processing disorders. We attempt to help her by watching her diet, visits with a speech and language pathologist  and occupational therapists and dance/gymnastics. Bedtime has always been an issue because even when her poor little body is exhausted her brain is telling her that it needs movement.

Not only did this story offer the  movement she needed but it also gave her the opportunity to calm down and breath deeply as she progressed through the movements. We also loved the animals and the exposure of their geographical habitats. I think our favorite is the turtle! This has become a part of our nighttime routine and has benefited the whole family!

We give it two thumbs up and will definitely be looking to add more of the Yoga Kids Stories to our collection!

The Buzz

"This book has been so amazing for my 2.5 year old daughter! The illustrations are adorable! She is always so rambunctious at bedtime and this lets her get out some of that excess energy. She loves the book so much that this has been one we read every night. It helps my daughter fall asleep faster which means more time for mom in the evenings." ~ 5 Star Review, cwalt047, Amazon
"Another GREAT book!! I used this book for my kids yoga classes for ages 2-5 years old. After a very active yoga class, we read this book and did the yoga poses before the resting portion of the class. My little yogis loved the pictures and saying Good Night to all of the animals one by one. I played a calming song with some animal noises in the background and we were then able to quiet our minds and bodies for the pose of rest. I think this will become a regular pre-resting story for my classes with this age group. My 5 year old son loves to read this book again and again too! Keep the great books coming!" ~ 5 Star Review, Stacy Daniels - Kids Yoga Teacher, Amazon
"What a delightful book to get young children reading and moving in a wind-down, calming story about saying goodnight to the animals of the world. I am a k-12 Reading Certified teacher who blogs about parenting at The Educator's Spin On It. I am big fan of literacy activities that combine movement and geography in a loving parent / child interaction experience and Good night, Animal World does just that. This book would be a great addition to your book shelf." ~ 5 Star Review, Amanda at The Educators' Spin On It, Amazon

About the Author: Giselle Shardlow

Giselle Shardlow from Kids Yoga Stories

Giselle Shardlow is the author of Kids Yoga Stories. Her yoga-inspired children’s books get children moving, learning, and having fun. Giselle draws from her experiences as a teacher, traveler, yogi, and mom to write the stories found at or on Amazon ( worldwide.

Book Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+

Good Night, Animal World Blog Tour Schedule (2014)

March 10
March 11
March 12
March 13
March 14
March 15
March 16
March 17
March 18
March 19
March 20
March 21
March 22
March 23

* $25 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: April 8, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Giselle Shardlow and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Benefits of Gmail in the Classroom


The benefits of Gmail are endless. The benefits of using Gmail in the classroom are priceless. For this particular post,  I'm going to highlight just few of it's more productive qualities for the classroom teacher. Not only can you access Gmail at no cost, you can access it on virtually any device you own. This makes it easier for all students, parents and community members to join.

Gmail features labels and filters  to better organize your contacts into groups  and to more quickly and efficiently organize your e-mails into a variety of categories. Most e-mail software offer folders for this purpose. The only problem with a folders is that it can only be sent to one folder. Then when you need to access that one e-mail it can take a little longer to find. With it being stored under a variety of labels you can quickly search the labels that pertain to the e-mail in question and find it more rapidly in this process.

Labels aren't the only amazing feature Gmail has to offer. Sticking with the idea of Contacts, Gmail offers a more detailed option to your contact list so you can include details  for projects, events, even birthdays. So when you are communicating with that person you have easy access to that information.  Contacts that are available are posted in the left side column so you can easy invite them to chat in "hangouts".

Gmail has other features that include: tasks, labs, and text, voice and video chat. With tasks you can manage your to-do list directly from e-mails. Labs can be found in the settings tab located in the top right hand corner. Labs include but are not limited to such features as "canned responses," multiple in-boxes, smart labels, add any gadget using URL, adding app search, and many more. These labs are called labs because that is precisely what they are, they are experiments that may not always work.

Text, voice and video chat offers opportunities to personalize your communication with both students and parents. Sometimes it's hard to interpret the mood of a message in text. Being able to hear and/or see the person you are talking to makes it possible to do so.

I hope you've gained some insight into the awesomeness of Gmail and consider using it to lighten your load and add another form of communication with your student's and their parents.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Looking For the Perfect App To Engage Your Kindergartner? Plus an Awesome Giveaway!

This program has hundreds of lessons within a full curriculum of reading, math, science, social studies, art and music. It is a kid-friendly site that is appealing to the eye and easy for a 5-6 yr old to navigate independently. The lessons are explicit and easy to follow and provide immediate feedback  so your little learner will know right away if they are correct or not. 

My little O says: "The Best! The Coolest!" 

This proud mama can't say enough about the changes I've seen in her since she started this program. Little O was diagnosed with speech and language delays and proprioceptive sensory issues at the age of three. She
began seeing a speech and language pathologist and an occupational therapist right away. She finally began speaking around the age of four and very slowly began to recognize where her body was in space. Still developmentally delayed at the age of five we decided to go ahead and let her attend Kindergarten with the knowledge that she would be retained unless her delays improved greatly. She didn't quite reach the goals we'd set for her so at six she is trying Kindergarten again. It was the best thing we could of done for her! She is beginning to recognize when she is not speaking correctly and knows how to fix it most of the time. She will ask for help if she can't do it! She still struggles with some auditory processing so the music included in a lot of the lessons has really been beneficial for her. I love receiving the weekly reports that indicate  she is right where she should be with her Kindergarten peers! Her teacher has even asked what we were doing differently and to keep it up!

I was blessed with the opportunity to review this program and I get to give away three opportunities for you to try it for yourself. So sign up in the rafflecopters below. Wishing you the best of luck for this phenomenal program!

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and last but not least... A full Year!

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Diego's Dragon Book Review

Title: Diego’s Dragon, Book 1: Spirits of the Sun  Author: Kevin Gerard  | Publication Date: September 30, 2011  | Publisher: Crying Cougar Press  | Pages: 186  | Recommended Ages: 8+

 Diego had no idea what was in store for him when he entered the writing contest at school. The instant Nathan Sullivan (the author who held the contest) touched his hand to give him the dragon statue he won, he knew this was no ordinary statue. And Nathan was no ordinary author. 

Diego's life before the dragon statue was a typical life of an eleven year old (or pretty close anyway).  He had two loving parents, two best friends and a secret crush. He was a good student and a hard worker.  

There is a "family theme" that intertwines through out the book's events and ties the ending into a fantastic wrapped present. One that leaves you wanting to know what happens next. 

Gerard did a great job drawing the audience in and leaving them asking for more. This book would be a perfect choice for a classroom read aloud. Not only would the audience enjoy it but it is entertaining for the teacher as well. 

I will be buying book two and three! 

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. These words are mine and in no way influenced by anyone else. 

About the Book

Diego's Dragon Book 1 Spirits of the Sun by Kevin GerardTitle: Diego's Dragon, Book 1: Spirits of the Sun | Author: Kevin Gerard | Publication Date: September 30, 2011 | Publisher: Crying Cougar Press | Pages: 186 | Recommended Ages: 8+

Summary: An eleven-year-old Latino boy wins a district-wide writing contest for sixth graders. When an author visits his school to award his prize, Diego Ramirez has no idea how much his life is about to change. Nathan Sullivan hands Diego his statue, a handsome, glistening black dragon. He shakes his hand and leaves him to his friends. The students crowd around Diego, asking for permission to hold it.

After hearing the name Magnifico spoken aloud by family and friends, Diego awards it to his new dragon. If he only knew how fitting the name was, he might have known what lay ahead. Magnifico is the leader of the Sol Dragones, dragons that live within the magical fires of the sun. Nathan Sullivan is the earth's connection to the mysterious creatures. It is his task to find Magnifico’s guide.

As Magnifico comes to life he becomes quite mischievous, playing tricks on Diego to embarrass him. As he discovers his bloodline, however, Diego assumes greater control over his dragon and his destiny. In the climactic journey, he frees his people and suffers a terrible loss by guiding Magnifico to their goal.


Buy Signed Copy | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Sony Reader | Smashwords

The Buzz

"Every book by this author is amazing. My son, who is very picky has bought every book. He has read them without putting them down and even asked me to organize having Kevin come to his school. Kevin, the Author is a person doing what he loves to do and it shows in his work and his interactions with the kids. You will not regret your purchase!" ~ 5 Star Review, Adina F., Amazon
"My 4th grade daughter is obsessed with dragon books. When I discovered Diego's Dragon, I jumped at it--and now Kevin Gerard is her new favorite author! For a voracious reader like my daughter, that is the highest of compliments, especially considering her love for Erin Hunter's Warrior Cats series. Her enthusiastic commentary about book one, and her pleading for book 2, had me eager to read it for myself. All I can say is . . . my daughter was right. For any fans of middle grade adventure or fantasy or dragons or boy books or epic awesomeness, this is the perfect story." ~ 5 Star Review, S. O'Donnell, Amazon
"Kids who like dragon stories will love this adventure series. Those who liked Harry Potter, kids and adults, will like this series. I truly believe the Diego’s Dragon series will have readers anticipating new releases and then devouring the books immediately upon release. Spirits of the Sun is a great book for boys, and girls—and adults. Without gushing too much, I believe Spirits of the Sun is one of the best books I have read. If the series holds up, I will be its number one fan, though many others will claim that title. Kids, get this book." ~ 5 Star Review, Sue M., Amazon

About the Author: Kevin Gerard

Kevin Gerard

Kevin Gerard lives in San Diego, California, with two feline friends, Jesse the WonderCat and Little Man. When not writing or teaching statistics at Cal State San Marcos, he enjoys walking the grounds at the San Diego Zoo, hitting the waves at Cardiff State Beach, and hanging with his brother, nieces and nephews at the local Pizza Port. He also enjoys playing Halo on the internet; look for him in the rocket games as one of the characters from Diego’s Dragon or Conor and the Crossworlds.

Book Website | Author Blog | Twitter

Facebook | Goodreads

* $100 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 100 gift card

Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: April 4, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Kevin Gerard and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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