Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fall VirtCon 2016 - free online conference from Discovery Education - Oct 22

Discovery Education is hosting a free, online conference - 2016 Fall VirtCon - on Saturday, Oct 22nd.

VirtCon is a bi-annual conference that brings the Discovery Education community together to hear cutting-edge keynotes, be inspired by thought-provoking presentations, and participate in engaging discussions with the Discovery Education Community around the globe. Streamed live from their headquarters in Maryland, VirtCon provides you with the opportunity to hear from your peers, share ideas and instructional tools, and discover new resources available.

Fall VirtCon Themes

During Fall VirtCon’s ‘Discovery Education in Action’ program you will learn how your peers are using Discovery Education in their classroom, hear how they solve problems, and experience Discovery Education through their eyes.
  • Conversation Topics:
  • Literacy Through Digital Content
  • Learner Agency & Student Ownership
  • Collaborative STEM
  • Professional Learning Strategies

How to Participate:

Attend Online: All sessions are virtual and you can come and go as you please throughout the day. Visit this page on October 22nd to watch all sessions. Register Here

Viewing Parties: Viewing parties are hosted throughout the country and provide an opportunity for you to meet new community members in your area, connect with colleagues locally, and reflect on your learnings from the conference.
Register to Host a Viewing Party


Education on Air: It Takes a Teacher - free, online conference from Google 12-3-16

You’re invited to Education on Air, an online conference from Google.

Learn with educators from around the world. Join Google for Education on Saturday, December 3rd for Education on Air, a free online conference. Learn from over 100 sessions led by other educators. Learn new approaches & celebrate around that #ItTakesATeacher:

  • Australia & New Zealand sessions: 10am AEST 
  • United Kingdom sessions: 10am GMT 
  • Americas sessions: 12pm ET / 9am PT 
  • Register here

Register (it's free) and you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Engage with other educators and school leaders to share with and learn from each other 
  • Hear from inspiring speakers like Linda Darling-Hammond, Jennie Magiera, Kevin Brookhouser and many more 
  • Explore the latest Google product news and get tips and tools from educators 

In the meantime, check out our It Takes a Teacher page where you can share your stories with the hashtag #ItTakesATeacher.

In the coming weeks I'll post updates on the 100+ speakers and sessions. Stay tuned.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Google announces a lot of updates and changes, including a new name for things

Yesterday afternoon Google announced a ton of updates and one big new thing - a new name for Google Apps. It is now "G Suite". They also changed the name for all of their services to Google Cloud.

It is a name change to better align with all of their offerings and products and the services and apps are still the same. Different name, same great products. The name change has already gone out in the Admin help page, Google+ community and more.

For Google for Education, there are now 4 areas - G Suite for Education (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites, Gmail, Calendar, Drive), Classroom, Chromebooks, and Content (Creative Apps).

There were also some announcements with product and feature updates:

Introducing Google Cloud - Today we’re announcing Google Cloud, Google’s unique and broad portfolio of products, technologies and services that let our customers operate in a digital world easily and at peak performance.

All together now. Introducing G Suite. G Suite is a set of intelligent apps—Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, and more—designed to bring people together, with real-time collaboration built in from the start.

People all over the world working together seemlesly

G Suite website - includes all of the tools that were part of Google Apps

Feature announcements:

View deleted files with the latest Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides Android apps

Save time with smart scheduling in Google Calendar

What you love about Google Search — now for Drive

Explore in Docs, Sheets and Slides makes work a breeze — and makes you look good, too

Google Cast is now built in to Chrome

Chrome on Android: Do more on every phone and network


Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's National Preparedness Month - here are some great free resources

America's PrepareAthon! Prepare Bag graphic

It's National Preparedness Month, and start of the Hurricaine Season. With all of the crazy weather we have seen, it's good to be prepared.

It is important to consider three scenarios when planning for an emergency: 1) an escape route and meeting point if everyone is in the house; 2) what to do during a school day; and 3) how to handle an emergency during the weekend, when family members might be scattered.

Although many people are familiar with the concept of developing a family plan for emergencies, most fail to take the time to sit down and actually come up with one. One great resource is the FEMA-sponsored website: Check out their kids section too:

Schools need to be prepared themselves, as well as teach their staff and students how to be prepared.

Each household, business, and school should have an emergency plan, emergency kits and people trained in emergency preparedness and response.

I started my training in emergency preparedness while on my trail to Eagle ScoutEmergency Preparedness is a required merit badge and the Boy Scouts emphasize emergency preparedness among the scouts. I am also a paramedic, special operations paramedic and FEMA trained in Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Management. Here are some of my favorite resources for learning about Emergency Preparedness. is the US Government's web site for information and resources on emergency preparedness and response. There are resources for making a plan, an emergency kit, and how to stay informed. Information is included for individuals and businesses.

The Boy Scouts of America, who train all their Scouts and Adults in Emergency Preparedness, has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security to provide resources for the public on getting prepared. The site has planning resources, how to make an emergency kit, and other resources.

Seven Emergency Preparedness Tips You May Not Know
Seven Emergency Preparedness Tips You May Not Know from Lifehacker

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross website also has information for creating an emergency plan and how to prepare for different emergencies. They also sell emergency kits (they are very good and a decent price). You can always make your own using their lists though. There is a full section on preparing schools and students. The Preparedness Fast Facts page is an excellent, one stop resource.

Emergency Management Institute Logo

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Emergency Management Insitute
The FEMA EMI offers free, online courses for anyone to take. The courses are well done and there are plenty of downloadable materials to help you. If you pass the test at the end, you even get a certificate.

Here are a list of the courses that I think all educators should take: (I've taken these, and more)

IS-7   A Citizen's Guide to Disaster Assistance
IS-22 Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
IS-55 Household Hazardous Materials - A Guide for Citizens
IS-100.Sca Introduction to the Incident Command System for Schools
IS-362 Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools

Education Administrators should also be involved in community emergency planning because schools are on the top of the list as emergency shelters and field hospitals and the building administrators know their buildings.

You can even join your local Community Emergency Response Team. These are teams of citizens that are specially trained to help out in major emergencies, sort of like the reserves. Find out more here. Here is a list of CERT's by State:

Emergency Preparedness is everyone's responsibility. The Japanese know this and that is one reason why the disaster over there is not worse that it is. Share these resources with your students, colleagues, and family.

Free Back to School Guide for students - scheduling, budget, study habits and more

This Back to School Guide, is a free resource for helping students achieve greater success in school. The new guide offers tips for efficient scheduling, how to maintain a budget, creating good study habits and more using office productivity software.
The guide is available here for download:

The guide includes these topics:
• Back-to-School Basics: Tracking Tools Can Help You Prepare for Fall
• Getting Back in the School Mindset
• Templates, Style Trends, and More
• Good Study Habits and Why They Help Students
• The Importance of Scheduling for Students
• Additional Resources for Students
• Helping Students Start Thinking Ahead to College
• Summer Assignments to Prepare for the Next Year Ahead

To download the full Back to School Guide, visit

Other resources for students:

10 Great, Free Apps for Students for Notetaking and Class Planning

Successful Studying Tips and Resources for Students

Study Tips and Notetaking Resources

Resources on How to Study

Study Aids

Important Skills Students Need for the Future that we need to help them learn

10 Important Skills Students need for the Future

10 Technology Skills Every Student Needs for the Future


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