Boomerang for Gmail

How many times have you fired off an email and hit send only to kick yourself after?
Or perhaps you have forgotten  to send an email?

Boomerang for Gmail solves those problems and more!

A free extension, available for Chrome, Safari and Firefox, Boomerang allows users to schedule emails to be sent at a later time and date. (So that angry email you emotionally typed can be reconsidered and softened when you are calm).

Boomerang improves efficiency as you can compose and schedule emails to be sent while you are away from your computer, send recurring emails, and track responses and read receipts.

Teachers, Boomerang means you don't have to spend the night before a field trip or special event with last minute reminders, you can compose the email and schedule to send or resend.   Boomerang also will remind you if you fail to hear back from a recipient.   This could help with scheduling conferences.

I recently to emailed someone who had their "out of office" reply on.  Boomerang knew to ask me if I wanted to resend the email on the "return date" noted in their reply.   When the return date arrived, Boomerang moved the email to the top of my priority box to remind me that I still needed to get in touch with that person.

There is a mobile version that is good for quick emails or reminders to yourself.

While there are some more extensive Boomerang offerings that cost money,  they seem to be more related to business and promotional needs.  I think most teachers will be very happy with the free version.

Please note when I first added Boomerang it did not appear in my Gmail immediately.   Give it a few minutes to embed itself into your browser and Gmail.

Google Apps, Extensions, Add-ons 101

Apps, extensions and add-ons can get confusing.
Here are some quick descriptions.

Apps are basically websites.  Adding an app to Chrome adds a shortcut to access a site you use often.   

Extensions are mini-programs that you install within your Chrome browser to help with functionality.  They will appear next to your browser bar. 

Add-Ons are used with Google Docs and Sheets to add capabilities to those programs. 

Logging into a Google program, brings your personalized Apps, Extensions and Add-ons to whatever computer you are using (just don't forget to log out when you are done).  

**Note: If your Apps bookmark does not appear, you can add it by following these steps:
  1. Right click on the bookmark bar and click "Add page..."  
  2. Delete the text in the "Name" field.
  3. In the "URL" field type in chrome://apps/
  4. That will restore the button which can now be dragged anywhere in your bookmark bar. 

How Teachers Spend Their Summer Vacations

Having a sister who is also a school librarian has lots of obvious perks.  Every time we get together is like a mini professional development session as we talk books, technology, lesson ideas, and effective teaching practices.   We get together a lot!

Another benefit is that she teaches in Rhode Island and belongs to Rhode Island Society of Technology Educators  (RISTE).   This summer they offered a 3-day Google Apps for Education Summit (#RIGAFE2016) that I was fortunate enough to attend with her.  The school district where I work will be a Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom school district this year so I was very excited to start learning more.  

This was by far one of the best professional developments I have ever attended.  The instructors were educators who work in flipped classrooms. Twelve breakout sessions were offered each day that did not just gloss over a topic but showed how it worked and can be implemented in the classroom.

The challenge for me sitting in the breakout sessions, is that I knew exactly what teachers, what projects and what curriculum topics I would want to suggest flipping...but those were the elementary teachers I have worked with for almost two decades.

Working with two new staffs and entirely new curriculums will be an interesting learning experience that I am very much looking forward too as I get to work with my former students.

Now that the summit is over, I am exploring more on my own.  I will share the apps, extensions, add-ons that I find helpful in this blog.  

 It is a very exciting time to be in education as more technology is implemented, allowing us to teach, guide, share, and collaborate.  Ultimately, preparing our students for future educational and professional endeavors.

Hip Hip Hooray...for books YA!!!

This meme could not be more true.
I love to read.   Always have.

However, if you asked me how many books I read last school year that were not related to a lesson I was teaching at school or to my four year old son, I would be completely embarrassed.  

Life gets busy fast.   

So this summer I decided to make reading a personal priority.  It was important for me to make time for myself doing something I enjoy, to catch up with what's new in YA literature, and to be a better reading role model for my son.  

I committed myself to 50 pages a day.   If I faltered one day I would force myself to read 100 the next day.   I started with a list from fellow librarian and friend Casey who is one of the most voracious readers I know.  She was also a co-chair of the committee that selected the 2017 High School Nutmeg Nominees.  She gave me personal suggestions and then I began following her on Goodreads.

I forgot how much I love YA literature.  It is mature and edgy, full of angst and humor, violence and hope.  Don't get me wrong, I love children's books too but after 18 years of not reading many books above an 8th grade level (occupational hazard), it is nice to finally "grow up."

For those who may not use Goodreads yet, it is social media for books.  Goodreads allows you to keep track of books you have read, are currently reading and want to read.   I love going to the library and having my book wish list right there on my phone.  Or if I forgot my phone I can log on with a library computer. 

Goodreads works with Facebook if you choose that option so you can see what your selected friends are reading and recommend.  A great way to find your next read!   

Goodreads allows you to share your reading lists, rate and review books, and share all this with your friends that follow you.  

As a school librarian, my hope is that my Goodreads will inspire students (maybe parents) to read for fun, something I know gets harder for students to find time for as they balance schoolwork, athletics and extracurricular activities.  I will invite them to follow me for book ideas, start their own reading wish list or use it with their own circles of friends to share the love of reading. 

I use the Goodreads widget to highlight some of my favorite books on this blog.  A link to my profile from there as well.   I also use a widget in my email signature showing what I am currently reading.   

In the world of fast paced technology, I love that Goodreads is there on my screen reminding me to shut down my social media and dive into a book (or a Kindle app).

Speaking to finish my current book so I can  continue on my "books I want to read" list!

What am I blogging about?

As a library media specialist, my job is just as much about supporting teachers with resources and technology for their teaching as it is about providing learning experiences for students.

This blog is:
  • A place to document my transition to the middle school and high school library media centers. 
  • A place to reflect on my teaching practice and professional learning.  
  • A place to share ideas for my new colleagues and my former colleagues (hard to take the elementary school out of this librarian, especially having my own young child at home).  
  • And let's be honest, a place to reference when evaluation time rolls around.    

A little background
I have spent the past 18 years as an elementary school library media specialist.  It was a job I knew I wanted to do since I was in elementary school myself (a million years ago when the school library program was solely books and the Dewey Decimal system).

I have loved (almost) every minute and could keep doing this job for another 20 years.  I love that I never feel stagnant.  There are always new books, new programs, new technology, new lessons, new ideas.  Being a library media specialist feeds my love of learning and my love of teaching.  

However, this school year I was presented with an opportunity to move to the secondary level in my district.   It is bittersweet.

The bitter:
  • Due to state budget cuts, our district eliminated a library media specialist position.  
  • I am saddened that the program that I worked so hard to build will be changing and younger students will not have access to a certified library media specialist on a regular basis.  
  • I will be leaving a group of amazing teachers that I can truly say are family.
The sweet:
  • I will be working with my former students and helping them in their educational journey. 
  • I will not be teaching 30 classes a week.
  • I get to enter a whole new world of learning.
  • YA literature!!!
Change is good.
I am focusing on the sweet and am very excited about the school year ahead.

My blogging adventure begins...

I am a planner.

I am a Type A, slightly OCD, highly organized planner.

It is a blessing and a curse that I like to research and plan every detail before embarking on something new.  Blogging is something new to me.  I have been reading blogs, researching how to write blogs, learning how to use widgets, thinking of the perfect blog name, figuring out how to use design features, (the list goes on)... for I can't even tell you how long.

I have written blog posts in my head but never on the screen because I am too busy planning the blog...because I want it to be perfect.

But today I am going to give up perfection.

I am going to jump in and start.

If you happen to join me on my blogging journey, please be patient with me as it won't be perfect (and that's okay)...deep breath... and diving in.

Badges Are Not An Alternative to Library Media Specialist Certification!

I love to learn!!  As a school librarian there is ALWAYS something new. Professional opportunities abound on the Internet with online classe...