Managing Your Gmail Inbox

There are many ways you can personalize, manage, and interact with your Gmail Inbox.
While everyone will need to know how to send and receive email, many of you might want to setup your individual workflow with filters, labels, and more (Gmail calls folders "labels" because an email can have more than one "label" attached to it). 

Here is the How-To Manual for working in Gmail. This resource is put together by many teachers and Google employees to help staff and students get work done in Gmail. 

Shorten Those Long URL's

How do you get your entire class to a web address that is sevety-four letters, numbers, and symbols long? Use a URL Shortener to make the link something a normal person could handle typing in. There are a lot of different options for this, but I want to mention my latest favorite:

goo.gl is a service that comes with our Google Apps for Education. goo.gl takes the long web address and shortens it into something you can have your students type in on the fly to get them to a specific website.  

SMORE - Create online flyers

SMORE is one of the fastest and easiest ways to create and publish an online brochure or flyer. What project could you use an creative and smooth online published document for?

Check out SMORE to see more about what you can create online.


What Google Reader

Last week I set out to complete a goal I've had for almost a month now: Get through all the new items in my Google Reader. I had over 400 new items which for me is a lot, and since school has started this fall I have not been able to get through everything. At the moment, I subscribe to 95 sites and feeds. I don't know if this is a small or large amount of subscriptions, but I do know I get  a lot of ideas, tools, and general information on a daily basis from my Google Reader.
Sometimes my feeds seem like a burden and one more inbox I am fighting to get to 'zero' unread messages in, but last Friday I became a born-again Google Reader advocate as I set out to complete my goal. At least half of the information in my feeds were specifically useful or at least interesting and related to school, work and life. I started to think about the information I wouldn't be exposed to if I didn't sit down and sort through the 'feeds' and I know I can probably be considered an amateur Google Reader-er by many who are able to soak up information faster than I can. 
Above is the reading statistics for everything I am subscribed to in my Google Reader. Looking at the past 30 days, I have read (or at least glansed) at 1,150 items. 55 of those stories interested me so much I explored them further by clicking on the link. 19 of the items were 'starred,' which in my world means they were saved to Evernote to be read later using the web tool ifttt.com and this recipe

When I 'read' something in Google Reader, that really means I have skimmed an article to see if it has anything of value to me, consume that information, and decide if I want to share it, save it for later, or spent time exploring more of that topic right then and there. 

Google Reader brings information from many different sites into one simple place you can efficiently read it all. I don't want to try to write a simple explanation of how this happens because I know it's already been done before. 

For a quick how-to on getting started using Google Reader, this link from the University of Minnesota Library provides a quick introduction to RSS Feeds and Google Reader.   

I like the Google sponsered, "some topic.. in Plain English" videos because they are usually under two minutes long. 


Google Docs (Google Drive)

*Note: Google Docs will be changing to Google Drive. Find out more here

Google Docs allows you to create content, collaborate with others in real time, and share with others in a variety of formats.

Top Five ways I observed ISD197 using Google Docs for this spring:

  1. 'Living' agendas and notes
  2. To easily provide feedback to students
  3. Lesson planning across hallways and buildings
  4. Sharing files of any type
  5. Google Forms for instant feedback on instruction and learning 


Student responses using any device

An extremely easy student response website that works from any iPad, computer, chromebook or cell phone with internet.

Sign up at socrative.com for free and be ready to get student responses in minutes. Only the teacher needs a Socrative account, students simply go to the website m.socrative.com and enter in the 'room number' that the teacher gets with their account.

Students go to the website, enter in a five digit number that has been assigned to that teacher, and can respond in real-time to questions asked in class. Feedback is instant on the teacher side.

*Note: Socrative has iOS Apps for both Students and Teachers, but the website socrative.com seems to work the same without Apps.

Practical cellphone use

Cel.ly  sends text messages to large groups of people. This service isn't limited to simply pushing out messages to your team about a field change, it let's you interact both privately and as a group. There are options to send out group messages, 2-way texting, poll your entire audience, and schedule texts to be sent at a certain time and date.

You don't need to even have text messaging yourself, Celly can do all of the texting for you through their website. If you want to read more, check out Celly's Tips & Tricks.

Celly was build by a parent seeking safe ways for teachers to communicate with broad audiences, with cyberbullying and individual privacy on the forefront of their product. There are a number of levels to moderate messages sent through Cel.ly.



Grooveshark has been my music go-to for the past few years, especially when I want to find music related to a particular genre or culture. No account is needed to search and listen to music. Create a free account and save playlists, along with searching the 'Grooveshark Community' to discover new music from stations others have setup.

For those iPhone/iPad users: check out html5.grooveshark.com


Commonsense Media

Devoted to helping educate children, parents, teachers, and the community about online dangers, awareness, and safety.

BBC News for Kids

BBC News for Schools

BBC News Quiz

Google Search


Free textbooks: CK-12 Flexbooks


MoodleShare is one of the largest collection of creative commons online courses you can use or download online. This project was started in District 279 in Osseo a few years ago, and is a create place for complete online courses you can use as a resource, or use the entire course.


Discover and interact with World trends at Gapminder.

Gapminder teaching resources


Alternative URL Shortener: Goo.gl


 Picasa is a part of Google Apps for Education. I find it the easiest way to upload and share photos for both school and home.
How to upload photos with an email address


Interactive Timelines. Dipity has become the one-stop place for teachers and students to create and share online timelines.

Check out Dipity


How to turn in and automatically publish student work using Posterous.com

Guide from freetech4teachers.com on how to setup Posterous to as a classroom sharing blog.

Digital Vaults

The National Archives Digital Vaults  for photos and resources. 

National Archives lesson plans and resources can be found at this link


AutoCad WS 3D modeling for free.


Aviary is a huge online toolbox for photo editing and creation.

Let's take a look at the run down White Bear Lake's Mark Garrison put together on Aviary.


Access your Professional Learning Network on Twitter.

Today's Front Pages

Access the front page of currently over 800 newspapers daily at Today's Front Pages

If This Then That

Khan Academy

Khan Academy


Educreations.com is an interactive whiteboard that records video and voice while you write. It is an easy way to record a short lesson or explanation to use for later. Educreations is makes it easy to share a recorded drawing or lesson with your class, or keep it private for your own use and reflection the next time you teach that particular concept. Educreations is full of lessons recorded by teachers from all over the world on topics you probably teach. Educreations.com was designed and built for use by teachers. You need to create an account and sign in as a teacher, but it's a free tool. The whiteboard you draw on is very clean. Even if you aren't recording a lesson, it might be a great place to find an online "blank slate" to write on.

The best part: Educreations works almost the same on their website and an iPad (App link here). You can access all your Educreations whiteboard recordings from the internet OR the iPad app.

Need to create account: Yes 
Cost: FREE, no limitations


Pics4Learning is a go-to spot for creative commons pictures and resources for many teachers in ISD197. It is easy to search and browse by topic.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons 


Ted is an organization devoted to, "Ideas Worth Spreading." I know many educators share TED videos in class to get students to think or ponder different ideas and concepts. This spring, TED focused this idea toward education with a new Ted-Ed website.

Let's take the Ted-Ed Tour


As a Google Apps for Education school, we have access to a number of publishing and collaboration tools. Blogger.com is one of my favorites because you can create blogs from almost any device, unlike Google Sites, which does not work on iPads or phones very well. Organizing a site with Blog posts almost make it easy to rearrange and find information when you want to update it in the future. 


Blogging project started in May: 

*Note: If you are going to have your students create blogs, create no more than 30-35 per day. Any more than that and our building gets marked as SPAM and you get an error message. 


Remember one password, LastPass will remember the rest.

Online converter

Online-convert.com is the only tool I use to convert video, text files, or download YouTube videos at the moment. I first heard about online-convert last year. After using it the first time, I bailed on all other converter tools.
Online-convert does not require you to sign up for an account and will convert just about any filetype you can throw at it.


  • Convert video that won't go into iMovie 
  • Download a YouTube video to your computer (so you don't have to wait for it to load with 32 students in your class...)
  • Convert a Word document to a PDF so anyone can open it
  • Convert a Word document to an ePUB 
  • Turn video a format video you can send to your iPod or iPad 
  • *Convert anything you can't open or use to something you can


Conceptboard: This spring I went searching for a tool that would let me draw on a computer and show up on student iPads at the same time. I found Conceptboard, which is a collaborative online whiteboard originally made for the business world. You can draw lines, shapes, and text on an interactive whiteboard, and share the whiteboard with others.
When you share the board with others, you get a public URL in an email, which you can then share with your entire class. You are limited by whiteboard space in the free version, but you can create, save, and share these whiteboards to anyone with the internet.

Let's play with this board today: http://conceptboard.com/board/noxk-864g-166c-d1oz-m8yi


Teaching Channel  is a growing library of effective teaching resources, instructional strategies, and ideas from teachers around the US. Videos are organized by grade level, content, or education topics in general.


YouTube has become the second most popular search engine in the world. YouTube has a focus on sharing information and learning through videos.

Check out youtube.com/teachers
Just for fun: YouTube Search Stories


Dropbox gives you 2gb of free online storage. I store all my files on Dropbox so I can access them from anywhere.

Instead of saving files to a USB flash drive, emailing yourself attachments, and worrying about which version of a document is the most up to date, store all your files safely and securely in a DropBoxDropBox is free cloud-based storage, meaning your files are stored somewhere safe from breaking and crashing computers.
What 'cloud storage' actually means to real people: You can access your files from basically any computer and device - iPad, laptop, smart phone, whatever, from anywhere. DropBox installs a small program on your computer and creates a folder called DropBox on your computer. Just start saving files to that folder, and all your other computers or devices automatically update files as you add or change them. You get 2GB of storage for free - So don't upload your entire photo album right away. Your computer will crash, get dropped, be driven over, or fall in a muddy pasture at some point, so save your files 'in the clouds' to keep from losing them. DropBox stores your files on Amazon.com's servers, which claim to be safer than any bank.



Knowing how to record your computer screen while solving a problem or navigating a website is a step toward providing help and teaching outside of school walls. Screencast-o-matic is my favorite website that lets you screencast without downloading any software, or even signing up for an accout - which is always a plus.

Your turn:
Make a screencast explaining something, upload it to YouTube, and move on with your day. 


The Chrome internet browser by Google is what I use 95% of the time. Not because I'm blindly loyal to many Google products, but because it helps me do my daily computer tasks faster and easier so I can move on with my day.
There are a vast amount of add ons called 'Extensions' that let you do things like check the news, send the contents of a website directly to Evernote or Google Docs, and much more. 

History Pin

HistoryPin is a website that provides history photos and tours that are uploaded by users. People can attach photos to specific events in time, but they can also upload a boring family photo from 1987 of their children hiking in the woods. You can search history pin for topics, events, or locations, and discover history coming alive through their interactive website. 

I am not sure if I like HistoryPin or WhatWasThere better, but both of them have a growing number of history photos uploaded to their sites all the time. 

What Was There

WhatWasThere ties historical photos to an interactive map. Photos are uploaded to their website by users or anyone you scans in their old pictures and tags the location of the picture on a map. 

This website can be useful to help find photos from a certain area or time period. You can switch to Street View on the map and see what is in the location today, with the historic photo over it. Start exploring WhatWasThere.com

Google Earth

I see teachers using Google Earth in an extremely large variety of ways from classroom to classroom. Many people use Google Earth to look at their house, school, or work from a birds eye view.

Ready-To-Go Lesson Plans:

Scribble Maps

Use Scribblemaps.com  to draw and create personalized maps. This is a simple, no-signup way to get you or your class creating a map in minutes. Scribblemaps lets you download your map, save it to Google Maps, and share it with many other mapping websites.
If you are on an iPad, Check out the app, My Maps Editor in the iTunes Store here. My Maps Editor lets you create and draw maps, add pictures and descriptions to map points, and upload the whole thing to Google Maps from an iPad. 


Mint.com is a personal finance website that allows you to set budgets and track spending on a daily basis. One of the reasons I like Mint is that it categorizes all of my spending into categories like: Groceries, Gas & Fuel, Bills & Utilities, Home Improvements, Heath & Fitness, Restaurants, and many more. You can break down categories into more specific categories such as, Home Improvements > 2012 Bathroom Remodel, to really keep track of where your money goes. 

After first hearing about Mint.com, it took me one year to get past the fact that you give Mint.com your online banking logins. Mint is trusted by all the bigger banks and takes pride in their security, otherwise they would be out of business... Read more about their security here

Google Maps

I love encouraging teachers to use Google Maps for an assessment, or to work a mapping project into any class.  Google Maps can give content new context, and help students gain understandings. Whether you are measuring area, creating the path of a story, or adding research from Dodge Nature Center, Google Maps can do it.

Google Maps for Educators guide by Richard Bryne 


Evernote is an place to store and share notes, webpages, resources, voice memo's, smaller videos, and much more. Evernote is one of the most widely used note services because you can access your notes from any device with internet. 

All of your 'notes' are sorted in online 'notebooks,' which you can share with other people or students much like a Google Doc. Evernote provides many resources for educators here

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

freetech4teachers.com Copyright for Educators presentation