Tech It Out! #32

June 6, 2015 - Summer Challenge

Enhance Teaching. Empower Learning.

Want to keep learning over the summer? Take the Lincoln Summer Challenge! Below are 7 activities to keep you "in the know" over the summer so you are ready to go for next year!

Challenge #1 - Organize Your Google Drive

It's been on everyone's to-do list all year, and now there's finally time to make it happen! Consider the following ideas to turn your Google Drive into easy-to-navigate storage.

  • Move related files into folders (Alice Keeler wrote a great blog post on organizing Google Drive with folders)
  • Color code folders for a quick visual aid
  • Constantly searching through "shared with me" files? Move the important ones into your Drive for easy access.
  • Rename files to make them easier to find
Educators have unlimited storage in Google Drive - remember you can store ANY kind of document (Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, PDF, images, videos, etc.) by dragging & dropping directly into your Drive or clicking New - Folder/File Upload. This works best when you use Google Chrome.

Challenge #2 - Join Twitter (and use it!)

Twitter is simply the best free professional development out there for educators. Where else can you connect with other teachers around the globe, customize content to your subject area, and have 24/7 access to ideas, suggestions, and support?

Getting started is simple!

First: Create an Account

Set up an account at

I suggest creating a professional account that you will use only for school-related Tweets.

Craig Kemp wrote a great blog post: 10 Steps to Creating the Perfect Educational Twitter Account.

Next: Find Educators to Follow

Follow people who Tweet about things that interest you!

Check out Twitter4Teachers to find teachers by subject area, or you can find great Ed Tech Twitter users in the 2013 and 2014 Blog Honor Roll lists. Just click on the blue Twitter bird logo next to their names!

Then: Learn How to Re-Tweet and Favorite

The beauty of Twitter is that you don't have to come up with anything poignant or witty to say - when you see a Tweet you like, just re-tweet it or add it to your favorites! If you have your own thoughts to share with the world, by all means please do so, but don't feel like you have to Tweet anything original :)

Finally: Explore Hashtags

Hashtags are more than a pop culture phenomenon. They are used to categorize information on Twitter. Looking for math ideas? Try searching #mathchat. Want to try something new in social studies? Take a look at #SSchat. Want to see all the awesome things that happened at Lincoln this year? Check out #D57Lincoln!

Popular Education Hashtags on Twitter

A-Z Dictionary of Educational Twitter Hashtags

Cybrary Man's PLN List (scroll down to see hashtags AND suggestions of people to follow for each one)

Challenge #3 - Find Some Great Blogs to Follow

One way I stay current on educational technology trends is by following blogs. That's how I find a lot of the websites, resources, and ideas I share with you. Just like I follow ed tech blogs, you can follow blogs related to your subject area to find great new ideas!

Back in April, I sent a newsletter about this topic. Go back to Tech It Out! #25 to get started!

Challenge #4 - Consider a Conference

Downers Grove has hosted great Ed Tech workshops for the past several years. I always leave with great new ideas for the classroom! Their SAMRi Summer Camp will be held Wednesday, July 29.

Check out this link for registration information: SAMRi Summer Camp 2015

Get updates on their Twitter page: @SAMRiCamp

Challenge #5 - Make a YouTube Playlist

Videos can be used in so many ways - why not have them organized and ready to go for next year?

  • Show a quick clip in class to clarify a concept or activate prior knowledge.
  • Put a link to a video or playlist on your website so students can review at home.
  • Try out a flipped classroom where students watch a video for homework (it helps to have them take notes or complete a guided worksheet) and then explore the topic more in depth during class the next day with hands-on activities.
Create & share playlists

Challenge #6 - Curate Digital Content

Finding lots of ideas, but don't have time to look at them right now? Bookmarked tons of sites over the school year but don't have your school computer? Use a cloud-based curation tool so you can access your saved bookmarks from any device, any time!

Some of the more popular options are EduClipper, Evernote, and Pinterest. Take 15 minutes to explore these sites and see which one best meets your needs!

Challenge #7 - Explore My Resources Page

Sometimes the sheer volume of websites and online learning tools can be overwhelming! I have spent time this year sifting through the internet to find resources that are easy-to-use and appropriate for middle school students. My Resources page categorizes these websites according to what you are trying to accomplish in the classroom.

If you find things you like...

  • Add them to your Pinterest, EduClipper, or Evernote account!
  • Tweet about it!
  • Make a plan for how to use that resource in your classroom next year.

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