A Newsletter for the Digital Age

What you’re seeing below is the first digital newsletter published at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Selma, CA. I work there as the Program Manager, and this has been a dream of mine for two years.

Why a digital newsletter? Well, we’re fighting the battle of kids not taking things home when we give it to them (better said: things disappearing into the black holes that are called backpacks). Printing and mailing a traditional newsletter would get cost-prohibitive quickly, and besides…

*This digital form has clickable links! In this issue, that means links to the athletics website, links to the testing calendar, and a link to the Spanish version!

*We can send this multiple ways: we sent via Remind. When we get our email list up-and-running next year, we’ll do that, too. We can put a link (and QR code) on progress reports that are mailed home. We can post it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. We even print a couple copies to have in the front office (nobody really needs it, but we provide it).

*I can include high quality photos! I didn’t take full advantage of it in this issue, but that’s pretty neat. The little, grainy photos shared in most newsletters aren’t that great. In this format, you can really see the detail!

*The ability to update after sending is nice: If I’ve got a date wrong or even want to add a whole new slide, it’s super easy! Cool, huh!

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A Newsletter for the Digital Age

Shake Up Learning

shakeup

Want to dip your toes into the learning? Check out the blog.

http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/

Want to dive in deeper? Be amazed at the curated resources.

http://www.shakeuplearning.com/resources/

When I present about GAFE tools to teachers, I point them to this site.

MY latest nugget from her: I’ve been switching between my Google accounts all wrong (and so have you). I fixed that today, and I already love it. No, I’m not going to tell you how; go to her site and figure it out!

Shake Up Learning

Chromecart Calendar

I’m like Kip. I love technology. Always and forever.

But my favorite thing about technology is how it can be leveraged to improve people’s experiences. And today’s #TechTuesday post is all about that. When I moved up to the Fresno area and began working the Selma Unified School District, one of the first impressions I was able to make was with my idea to digitize our Chromebook Calendar.

If I understand correctly the system that was in place before my arrival, the former program manager would field in-person requests from teachers and hand-write them on a paper calendar. So, a teacher would tell her what dates they wanted to check out on of the school’s Chromecarts (a rolling cart that holds 32 Chromebook laptop computers). She would check availability on that date, write them in, and so forth. I think that she probably fielded requests from teachers after she had run out of carts, and had to deal with their disappointment face-to-face (that idea gives me the heebie-jeebies).

Knowing that one of the cool features of Google Calendar (exclusive to Education accounts) was the ability to make appointment slots, I hatched a plan.

  • I created 12 appointment slots (for the 12 Chromecarts) for each school day in my own account (in a sub-calendar called ALMS Chromecart Reservations).
    • It’s just like creating a calendar Event, but in education accounts an additional option is available to create an Appointment SlotScreen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.13.17 PM
  • I made the appointments for hour-long increments throughout the day, even though the reservation is actually for the entire school day
    • I did this so the appointments would be visible individually (not stacked 12-deep on top of each other).
  • I shared that calendar with the staff
  • I created a Program Manager website, where I created a page for the calendar
  • On that page, I explained the new process
    • Teachers visit the calendar page, look on the date(s) they want
    • They click an available appointment, add their name and room number, and voila!
    • The appointment is now visible in two places: the ALMS Chromecart Reservations calendar, but also on their own Google Calendar!!!

To be honest, it took several teachers a couple times to get comfortable (not a bad learning curve) simply because nobody else ever uses this appointment slot feature. But after that, it’s been working pretty much without a hitch for close to two years now! I’d love to be a 1:1 school and render this calendar unnecessary, but until then it’s nice to have a good system in place.

Chromecart Calendar

Need help? Ask Alice.

Every Tuesday, I’m going to share a tech tip or resource with you. Today, I’m sharing

http://alicekeeler.com/

Alice Keeler is an absolute machine. She is a prolific tweeter and blogger. She curates resources and tips an a crazy rate. I would get all judge-y and make a quip about how she must not have a life, but I have seen the evidence the she does, indeed, seem to balance it all (kids, teaching, presenting, constant tweeting)! I honestly don’t know enough about her to write any more here, but that’s okay…what I’m sharing is her website and her twitter handle.

If you ever have a question about Google Sheets or Google Classroom, just tweet her: @alicekeeler She’ll respond within minutes. Actually, before you hit her up with a tweet, just check out her website! The answer is probably there. Her stuff is just awesome. For instance, just today, she tweeted out a link to her blog post demonstrating how to concatenate. I happen to have known this trick (heck, I might have learned it from her), but I just love it! Concatenating is smashing two things together. Like…I have a column of student id numbers, and want to create a column of their email addresses. Concatenate the ID numbers with @selmausd.org…BOOM. Done.

In any event, check her out. On Twitter AND on her website. On a side note, I was tickled when I saw that she joined the Dave Burgess empire. Love that guy! #tlap

Need help? Ask Alice.