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  • Writer's pictureLCS ITRTs

Tech Resolutions for 2nd Semester (and 2021)

COVID-19 has not only changed the way students are educated--it has ultimately pushed EdTech to the foreground of instruction. With this sudden and unexpected change came the, sometimes chaotic, search for instructional software. Teachers who rarely used technology in their classrooms had to learn LMS platforms overnight and students had to navigate new programs with only remote assistance.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like some of the dust is beginning to settle, and am I beginning to wrap my head around and process the last year. With this new found mindfulness we’re hoping to set some resolutions we can keep for the new year and next semester. Here is our team’s Top 4 Tech Resolutions for 2021.

1)Tidy Up Technology

Our first resolution for our new year is all about tidying up. Like many others, I got on the Marie Kondo bandwagon a couple years ago organizing drawers and closets, asking “Does this spark joy?” Although my drawers are back to being a mess, I’m left with a lasting focus to keep things simple, clear and uncluttered. A good place to start tidying up your technology is in Google. We are a Google school division, and much of our work is stored in Google Drive and it’s easy to quickly accumulate a lot of files in a lot of different places.

Tidying Up Google Drive:

1. Organize into folders and subfolders

If you need to tidy up your drive into folders, an easy way to do so is to click the dropdown beside “My Drive.” This will display all the folders in your drive, allowing you to quickly drag and drop files into the correct folders.

2. Create documents in the folder you want it in

Creating documents in the folder where you want them to live eliminates the step of having to “place” the file later, additionally it shares the document with anyone who already has access to that folder.

3. Use colors and emojis

Adding colors and emojis to your folders can help you recognize them faster and gives you additional ways of organizing. Adding an emoji to the front of the folder puts it on top of your other folders. So, if you have a folder you use more often than others, add an emoji to the front so that it appears at the top of your Drive folder’s list.

To change the color of a folder from drive:

  1. Right-click on the folder

  2. Go down to “Change color”

  3. Select the color from the palette

There are lots of tricks to organizing your Google Drive and Kasey Bell from Shake Up Learning has a lot more tips for organizing your Google Drive. If you’ve got these 3 tips down and are looking for more, I highly recommend you check out her blog and podcast 13 Tips to Organize Your Google Drive.

Tidying Up Your Email:

Organizing my Google Drive? Done. Easy, but email? Email is where my baggage really lies and what’s the most difficult for me to keep organized. But in this new year I’m trying to take the advice of my more organized colleagues and follow their tips for decluttering my email (I’ll keep you all posted--cause this is going to be a struggle).

1. Archive unread messages

First, look at your inbox. Go there now, really. Do you have thousands of unread emails? If so, select them all and archive them. It may be uncomfortable if you’re like me and the first time you do this you’re archiving upwards of 2,000 emails but it’s helpful, and the first step to getting your email manageable. Archiving your email makes them searchable in case there is something you need, but they won’t appear in your inbox.

2. Unsubscribe from emails

I can’t tell you how many times I subscribe to newsletters for FOMO (fear of missing out) on some new, great “thing.” But honestly, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to read them all, and they mostly just sit in my inbox and make me feel guilty about all the items I’m not getting to. There are a couple I read regularly, and these bring me joy and inspiration for teaching. Pick the couple that continue to “bring you joy” and keep those. All the others, scroll down to the bottom of the email and hit that unsubscribe button.

3. Add labels to your emails

Labels allow you to now only organize emails, but they can pull the emails into a separate folder instead of cluttering your inbox. This can be especially helpful for secondary teachers that get hundreds of Google Classroom notifications about student work.

2) Master What You Already Know

We are a Google Division, and use some part of Google Suites every day. Thus, it can be well worth your time and energy to become proficient and get recognized for your expertise with Google by taking the Educator Level 1 Google Certification. The Google Certification Exam is good for 3 years, only costs $10, and gives you 30 recertification points towards your license renewal. On top of all of that, Google offers excellent training courses that you can take before taking the test.

Aside from Google certification, other educational software programs--such as Seesaw, Flipgrid, Edpuzzle and Wakelet also have ambassador and certification programs. Pick a software that you are already familiar with and become an expert at incorporating it within your curriculum!

3) Try Something New

Now is the time, not to try them all, but to try one (or if you’re bold--2) new thing with instructional technology! We are just now starting to get into the rhythm of online instruction, and while we don’t want to derail that, we do want to continue to have a growth mindset when it comes to using technology in our classrooms. Picking one new thing to learn could be trying a new interactive site with students such as Classkick or using the Konftel webcam and speaker to collaborate with hybrid and remote students synchronously. Additionally, our LCS ITRTs website can give you additional ideas for using technology as well as a link to the LCS Superheroes site which is a wealth of technology ideas and how to use them in your classroom. It’s ok to find a new piece of Edtech, try it, and fail. That learning experience can be as helpful as a lesson that you rock. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you give something new a chance.

4) Get Organized

As my colleague, Cat Phillips, says “You teach that which you most need to learn,” and that hits no closer to home than me making a resolution to get organized. This year, pick an organization tool and see if it sticks.

Every year I start a paper calendar, and in January I’m really good at writing everything down, but by the end of February my calendar remains blank. I keep trying, but it’s just not something that sticks for me. As I age (gracefully), writing down notes and keeping track of tasks is so much more necessary--it just doesn’t stick in my brain like it used to! I have found Google Calendar to be exceptionally helpful. I create appointments for myself all the time. I create calendar events for the grading window opening, or checking in with a student, or scheduling a Zoom meeting. All of these items I put down in my calendar.

Something I have found that has stuck more and more is Google Keep. I use this tool to collaborate with teachers and students as well as create checklists. You can receive notification reminders on Keep notes as well that alert you when you get to a specific location or at a particular time. This professional development offered last spring may help give you more ideas about using Google Keep.

Google Tasks is another organization tool that allows you to create and manage multiple task lists, create subtasks, add details to your tasks, and set due dates and can be found right in your Gmail and Google Docs--allowing you to jot a note down on the same screen.

By mastering what you already know, trying something new, and tidying up and getting organized you can get yourself ready for a fresh start. As we go through 2021, share what has worked for you and what you’ve learned. This collaboration helps your colleagues and your students feel connected--and makes us all better.

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