New to Google+? Here are 10 Tips for Success!

When using Google for the first time, it”s hard to know where to start. These ten tips provide a guide that will assist you in getting connected with other educators around the globe.

Google

1. Completely Fill Out Your Profile:  Be sure to add an actual photo of yourself, not just an avatar or other image.  Google has excellent privacy settings that can be used if there is personal information that you do not want visible to the public.  A complete profile page helps others learn more about you making it easier to determine if they would like to add you to their circles and / or communities.

2. Develop Your Circles:  Think about everyone in your contacts list.  Some of those people are friends, some are family, some are work associates, while others are acquaintances you have met online or at conferences.  Generally a post created for your work associates is not going to be of much interest to your family or friends.  You may also want to create a post for your friends that you do not want sent to your family or work associates.  Circles can help with that!  To develop your circles, you consider which groups of users you have and you simply drag people into the circle they belong in.  But what if someone falls into more than one circle?  No problem!  You can add users to multiple circles.  You can also create and delete circles as needed, so if you have an upcoming event, you can set up a circle to communicate with the event planners efficiently, then simply delete the circle after the event is over.

3. Join Communities:  Google Communities are a great way to find amazing resources and conversations about nearly any topic you could imagine.  There are thousands of communities to choose from, so look around and see what communities are out there to support your interests.  Some communities are public so anyone can join, others may require permission, so be sure your profile is complete!  Communities are a great way to connect with like minded people, pokies online sharing inspirational ideas and materials from around the world.

4. Post, Post, Post:  Please share your ideas with the world!  You have amazing thoughts, unique ideas, wonderful talents, and so much more to offer your communities and circles, so please share them.

5. Engage with Others:  There are multiple ways to engage with others in Google .  One of the simplest ways is to 1 someones post.   1 is similar to liking or favoriting on Facebook and Twitter.  Another way to engage with others in Google is to comment on someone’s post.  Adding meaningful interactions help to develop relationships within communities.  Users can also share posts they find interesting with their communities and circles.  Finally, posting publicly, and adding unique content is the highest form of engagement within Google .  Active engagement will help attract others to follow you and/or join your community.

6. Use #Hashtags:  When you are creating posts, be sure to use appropriate #hashtags.  #Hashtags simply help to further identify your post making it easier for others to find specifically what they are interested in.  Try to keep the #hashtags to 3 or fewer, so that you don’t overdo it.

7. Give Credit Where Credit is Due:  When you share a post written by someone else include “ Their Name” in your post to give the original author credit.  If someone has shared a post that you would also like to re-share with your circles at “h/t Their Name.”  H/t stands for hat tip this gives credit to the person who shared the post.

8. Add Content to Your Posts:  Make your posts more meaningful by adding text to your post when sharing photos, links, videos, and events.  We are very interested in what you are hoping to share, but often times others don’t have time to investigate what you have shared to discover why it is important.  Adding text to your posts to explain what you are sharing and why you feel it is important will help others see value in your posts.

9. Reply to Others:  When some comments on your post, ask questions, shares your post, and/or mentions you in their post, it is important to follow up with them quickly.  Answering questions while the discussion is still new in everyone’s mind is alway important.  Also, a quick thank you for the mention, a thanks for the wonderful comment, or thank you for sharing my post goes a long way when building relationships!

10. Try Out Other Google Features:  Check into the other features of Google such as Hangouts, Photos, Events, and Local to discover online chats, video chats, event sharing and discussions, and even find local hotels, restaurants, and attractions.  Download the Android or iPad Apps, and look into the Photo Backup to upload all of the photos from your mobile device to Google automatically.  Do this and so much more with Google

Here are some additional resource to help learn about Google :

*image provided by Wikimedia Commons

Access/Share Google Docs in Edmodo & the Power of My PLN

Edmodo and Google Users…

I guess I am a bit behind in the game because I just realized you can access your Google Docs in Edmodo now. This new feature came about in March and allows you to Sync your Google Docs (Drive) with your Edmodo Library. That means you can share documents with your Edmodo groups and students can easily turn-in assignments completed via Google Docs.Find the instructions to do this at the Edomod Help site. FYI all users will need to link their Google Docs account with Edmodo before and sharing of docs with users or groups takes place.

Wondering how I heard about this new feature of Edmodo??? Maybe not but here’s the power of my PLN…

I found this blog (while I was browsing Pinterest one evening). It’s by a Digital Learning Coordinator in the Chicago Public Schools > Teaching like it’s 2999 . I first pinned her idea to my “learn” Pinterest board and then visited her blog and found that what the author, Jennie Magiera, blogged about was so connected to what I do so I added it to my Google Reader.

One day this week Google Reader showed that the author had posted something new to her blog called More Ideas to Googlize Your School. That post linked to a Google Doc that she was going to share at a presentation she was doing with teachers. As I scanned the doc I noticed a reference to “Edmodo’s Google Doc integration” so I did a Google searched for edomodo google docs and came up with the link that I shared with you all above.

Isn’t that so cool…in a nerdy sort of way :) In what ways do you “harvest” great teaching ideas from the web? And a big shout out to Jennie Magiera for sharing her ideas and more with us all.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialists, Cognitive CoachingSM Trainer, and sporadic blogger for the eMINTS National Center. This post was originally posted at the Higgins’ Helpful Hints Blog.

Ten Troubleshooting Solutions

XKCD Flowchart

XKCD Flowchart

1. Screenshots – Taking a screenshot won’t solve your problems, but it will make it much easier for your IT support to help you. Taking a screenshot of error messages or out-of-the-ordinary computer behavior can demonstrate what the problem is better than you will be able to explain.

2. Flowcharts – Like the flowchart above, there are basic flowcharts all over the web that can help you get to the bottom of almost any problem. One nice collection of flowcharts can be found here.

3. Help! – Actually using the help option offered on nearly every software application is a quick way to find the answers for which you are looking. The trick is to choose the right terminology. If at first your search turns up nothing, try simplifying your search or using synonyms.

4. Online Communities – There are online communities and discussion boards for nearly everything, especially hardware and software. Most of these discussion boards have either a search option or index of topics. Even if a search doesn’t reveal the exact answer for which you are looking, posting your own comments and queries should drum up some helpful responses.

5. Social Media – Turning to social media outlets like Facebook, Google+, or Twitter can greatly increase your knowledge base. Someone else in your network has likely had a similar issue and probably knows a solution or at least can point you in the right direction for finding your own.

6. Turn it off. – When a computer is not responding or freezes up, just turn it off. While this is not a good habit to get into every time something goes awry, it is often the only solution. Typically, if your computer isn’t already too far gone, a quick restart will correct the issue.

7. Share your troubleshooting strategies with your PLN. – Since your colleagues do similar work to you, they have probably also faced similar issues. With some luck, they may have even solved the same problem and can share what they did to fix it.

8. Ask your students. – Students can hold a wealth of knowledge when it comes to troubleshooting technological problems. They are more likely to explore and play with technology, discovering problems and solutions along the way. Empower them now and again to help you with your troubleshooting needs.

9. Read Lifehacker. – Lifehacker is a blog that looks at ways in which we can work around daily obstacles or hack our way through life. A large chunk of this content focuses on clearing obstacles with software and hardware. Making this blog part of your daily read will inspire all kinds of troubleshooting triumphs.

10. Google it! – Sometimes, we have no idea where to start with a troubleshooting process. In these cases, doing a quick internet search can provide a plethora of options. More than likely, the most popular solutions will be on the first page and that will be enough to help you solve your technological problems.

What troubleshooting strategies to you employ? Which of the strategies above have worked the best for you? What are some troubleshooting strategies that you would add to this list?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

eMINTS Conference: Session 2 (Friday)

Design Patterns 2.0

Our good friend Bernie Dodge presents on how the best WebQuests are those built around tasks that resemble the authentic work that people do outside of school. Design patterns provide us with a way to describe that work and make it easier to create WebQuests that better prepare our students for life. This session will be the world premier (since yesterday’s session) of a new set of design patterns that will kick lessons up a notch.

Journals, Blogs and Wikis to Enhance Reading and Writing

Presenter Denis Knight provides participants an opportunity to gain a better understanding of various web-based instructional opportunities to use to enhance reading and writing skills. Participants learn how to use online journals, blogs and wikis to develop innovative ways to not only communicate with students, but provide an avenue for creative written expression. Teachers can generate online journals for students to reflect on classroom activities; blogs for addressing constructive response questions and article reviews to address reading comprehension. Participants learn to create a classroom wiki to provide opportunities for interactive discussion and peer evaluation. When used with appropriate assessments, these online sources can give teachers the flexibility to use internet sites as a way to move from the paper and pencil past to a new and exciting learning experience.

Personalize Your PD

Presenter Stephanie Madlinger helps teachers expand and take ownership of professional learning by creating a PLN (Personal Learning Network). Having a PLN allows one to learn and share with others around the world, 24/7. A PLN is a reciprocal network created and based on your interests and needs. Generate multiple opportunities to learn from, connect with, gather information and resources, then create and share with people like you. Participants learn which online tools to use to personalize their own PD. They explore online learning communities like Google Groups and SchoolTown; social networks like Facebook and Twitter; and social bookmarking like Delicious and Diigo.

Put Some WOW into Your Website

Krissy Venosdale of Hillsboro R-3 School District helps teachers explore ways to use the classroom website to enhance the learning environment. Using various Web 2.0 tools, sprucing up certain areas of one’s site, and encouraging interaction on the classroom site will enhance learning both in and out of the classroom. Digital portfolios, online projects, and weekly contests can all be used to engage students in a site and most of all, in learning.

Class, get out your cell phones please for bellwork. Seriously!

Presenter Roger Brallier of Mexico Public Schools help participants learn how to use cell phone technology to add an extra spark to bell work or preassessment in the classroom. Roger demonstrates how to reduce “under the table texting” and unlock the power of the cell phone (which may be greater than some of our older computers). Additionally, participants learn the basics of “Poll Everywhere” – a free online tool that shows real time results using the texting feature of a cell phone. Even without a phone, one can still use a webpage link.

The Flipped Classroom Approach in an eMINTS Classroom

Presenter Melody Paige of Monett School District presents a flipped classroom approach that entails “flipping” instruction in which students watch and listen to lectures for homework or at other non-instructional times. This gives learners control to pause or rewind lessons for understanding. Precious class time is then used for what typically was done as homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, creating, collaborating and researching. The concept is simple; but how does one make the “flipped” approach work in the real classroom? What software is needed? In this session, teachers watch videos of this concept in action and provide many resources for creating flipped content. There are many free completed lessons and videos ready for use in the classroom.

Thursday’s Tip: Supporting Self-Directedness

Self-Directed – “Directed or guided by oneself, especially as an independent agent”

When you think about it, we all want to be self-directed.  We want the ability and freedom to guide ourselves; to make choices based on a sound thought process, and the independence to tailor learning, thinking, and life to our own style and needs.   Being teachers, we also strive to achieve that same ability and desire in our students.  We want them to be self-directed with their thoughts, learning, and life.  Our biggest obstacle is: How do we achieve self-directedness in ourselves and our students?  As we first focus on ourselves for this post, there are several ways to move towards becoming self-directed.  With summer here, we can take some time and explore possible avenues to help meet that goal.


We might consider the development of our own Personal Learning Network (PLN) through blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.  We can choose the ones that allow us to develop skills, learn about new technologies, explore teaching strategies, see a variety of perspectives, and learn about educational issues affecting not only ourselves but the world.  A variety of tools and media allows us to develop a PLN that fits our individual learning styles as well as connect to the global education community where we can gain and share new learning.

Another way to move towards becoming a self-directed individual is through the organization of our thought process.  We have discussed in previous posts ways to reflect and plan.  We can implement these skills in almost any situation and in everything we do.  We can ask ourselves questions to develop a plan, and then once the event is over, reflect on ways to continue or improve what we did. This can include the setting of goals and monitoring the follow through of those goals.   As we take these pieces of planning and reflecting and internalize the process, we move ourselves closer to becoming a more self-directed person.

So some questions that could support you in becoming more self-directed that you might want to consider are:

  • What goals might you have for yourself in becoming self-directed?
  • What might be some strategies you can use to develop your ability to be self-directed?
  • What learning styles and preferences in yourself do you need to consider in becoming self-directed?

Taking the steps in becoming more self-directed may seem small but can have a powerful impact on how we approach and handle life.  As the Australian song reminds us – “From little things, big things grow” – Paul Kelly

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

mathplourde (Photographer). (2007). My PLN Banner. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/4618916837/