Another Week of Designs

Portfolio additions for the week of 10/17/16

I turn our school announcements into visual displays that showcase what’s happening in our building and alert students to upcoming events.

I also create graphics for the school, social media, newsletters, and websites.

These are examples of my work. Photos of students are contributed by staff members. I use Canva for most of my designs. I get images from Britannica Image Quest, Pexels, and Rawpixel.

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Back Pocket Apps

Have you ever been in a meeting with someone that you want to impress and they start asking you questions about what’s cool right now? Happens to me all the time! “What apps are you using right now, Laura?” Well, you know I’m always happy to share! I guess it’s wise to always keep a few apps in your back pocket so that when a situation like this arises, you are prepared with something valuable to say!

Well, just the other day I was collaborating with a building principal and she asked. We started off by talking about Google Keep (which we both LOVE) and all of the great features it has like collaboration, categorizing, reminders, checkboxes for lists, etc.

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We both agreed that the iPhone app for Google Keep is stellar and it’s so easy to add a voice note when you’re on the go or check what you have going for the day from your phone. It’s become my GO TO sticky notes app. google-keepI especially love the newest feature which allows you to pin your important notes to the top so you always have access to that key information instead of losing it in a sea of stickies. I may have let my Google Keep grow out of control a few times, but only over the summer!
I know that Google retired the app launcher for Windows so if you’re new to Google Keep you will never experience the fun of opening Keep as an app on your PC. It’s so clean, I love it and I dread the day I get a new machine and have to give up my Google Keep app for PC! If anyone knows a way to get it back, I’m all ears! Two additional features I would like to see come out of this app are email notifications when someone adds something to your list and more email integration in general. I would like to be able to take an email that needs addressing and add it to my Google Keep list with an easy click from the Gmail client.


Next, I brought up how helpful LastPass is. I love that I can store all of my passwords, organize them from within their vault, keep notes, give specific shared site access to specific people and access all of this on any device. LastPass is a secure website, an app, an extension, and a life saver!171883

You just have to remember your main password for the site and if you install their extension, it will run in your browser. LastPass even has an app for the phone, but you have to pay. However, I find that it’s worth the $12 a year to have all of my passwords at my fingertips. Oh, and the sharing. I can set it up so that the people who need access to my accounts can have access. I can organize my vault in so many ways. I can give access to some and none to others. It really is the last password you will ever need.


I get like, a gazillion emails a day and some of them are lists and lists of incredible articles that I  want to read but I never have the time when I am checking my email. I needed something that would allow me to save the articles I want to read and access them later. Bonus points if I can get them on my phone.pocket-logo-icon

Pocket is the extension that allows me to save that really interesting article from my email. I can even tag articles for organization. I can access Pocket through their website or an app on my phone. I like being able to save my favorite articles and keep an archive of everything I have read. I’m sure there is amazing functionality in their premium service, but for now I am getting everything I need for free.


Finally, have you ever heard of Plickers? I thought everyone had but I was wrong. Get ready for amazement. I thought our primary school principal would really love to introduce this to her teachers and student. Especially since the teachers in the primary schools have more iPads than we have at the middle school. The kids are not one-to-one so this is the perfect solution! The kids hold up a piece of paper with a code on it while the teacher scans the room with an iPad. The Plickers app reads data from the paper and correlates it into data the teacher can use! Check out this video and see for yourself.

You can see how wonderful Plickers is for schools that are not one-to-one or for anyone who is looking for something different or something with a kinesthetic approach.

So those are my back pocket apps for the moment. What are yours?

This Week’s Designs

Portfolio additions for the week of October 10th, 2016

I turn our school announcements into visual displays that showcase what’s happening in our building and alert students to upcoming events.

I also create graphics for the school, social media, newsletters, and websites.

These are examples of my work. Photos of students are contributed by staff members. I use Canva for most of my designs. I get images from Britannica Image Quest, Pexels, and Rawpixel.

Using Schoology as a Collaborative Blogging Platform

Every school year I go through the same action of scouring the web for a new, free blogging service for teachers to use with their students. It seems that everyone and their brother will offer a free blogging platform for individuals, but once you start wanting to add students to your blog you have to start shelling out the money.

We want to be able to involve all of our students in a blog that they can participate in through their ELA (English Language Arts) classes. Teachers will decide upon a theme for each month and students will contribute writing pieces for others in the school to view after teacher moderation. This gives students a chance to see what their classmates are writing and an opportunity to publish their own work.

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My solution is to create a Group in Schoology. We’re already using Schoology and we have the Enterprise edition so we could turn on blogs for our students as individuals, but that’s still not what we need. By creating a Group in Schoology, participating students can be invited to join the group and topics can be posted as Events and Discussions. Classes can be welcomed via Updates. Students can reply to the discussion topic with their final blog post (after rough drafts are reviewed and critiqued by teachers via Google Docs). Posting blogs in response to discussion topics will automatically categorize student writing by topic and teacher if necessary, keeping it very organized for readers.

Originally I wanted to have students posting their writing as Updates, but when I found out all students in the school could potentially be contributors, I changed my tune. I did not want every piece of student writing to end up in the Recent Activity section on the homepage. That area should be reserved for announcements and reminders we don’t want our students to miss.

We are getting started with blogging through Schoology this week. I’m excited to see how it goes and I’ll post an update soon!