Sunday, January 27, 2019

Google Project Culture Shift

I've been participating in (yet another) project since the fall of this school year, called Project Culture Shift, through the Google Certified Innovator program. In this program, we were tasked to work with a group of teachers in our school district or building to create an initiative/project that would help shift the professional culture in your school/district.

I worked with a small group of teachers from our school leadership team to create an initiative that motivated teachers to start observing in each other's classroom (in a non-evaluative manner), to gather new ideas and spark conversations about professional practices as part of our regular habits.

You may have heard similar initiatives with names like Pineapple Charts or something similar, but we wanted to really personalize our project to our school culture - so we chose a popcorn/movie theme we dubbed "Pop-Ins." Our school colors are red and white, which lent itself perfectly to a traditional striped popcorn bucket theme... as well as tons of popcorn puns. Of course. :)

Just last week, our final showcase was live-streamed through Google channels. It was recorded, and you can go back and view it here:

I was super nervous to present and talk about our initiative (You know how you're always comparing yourself to others and you never quite feel like you're good enough? Uh yeah, that's me. Pretty much always.), but it went pretty smoothly, and I felt like I had enough content to discuss my project, so that was good.

I'm really proud that I pushed myself to do another thing outside of my comfort zone, and I know that the more I continue to present and talk in front of others, the less anxious I'll be. So bring it on!

How do you deal with situations when you're feeling nervous/anxious? 

- Mrs L.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Eduporium Teacher of the Month Jan 2019

Fun news! I was named the January 2019 "Teacher of the Month" by Eduporium! They did a whole blog post interview and all kinds of social media shout-outs! You can check out the whole post here:

- Mrs L.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

EdTechTeam Blog Post: Google Applied Digital Skills

Hey all! I wrote a blog post for EdTechTeam all about how we used Google's Applied Digital Skills curriculum in my 7th grade Creative Technology classes. Please take a moment to head on over to check it out when you get a chance!


- Mrs L.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Introducing: ResetEDU! (An Origin Story)

I'm really happy to have finally released my Google Certified Innovator #GoogleEI #LAX18 project into the world, ResetEDU!

ResetEDU is a web series where I strive to help educators hit their own professional “reset” button by applying Design Thinking principles to their teaching career, be it curriculum, physical spaces, or even professional relationships.



A lot of physical and mental energy has gone into this project, and well... will continue to do so! I really struggled with HOW to get my message out into the world. I've been a blogger for about 10 years now in one form or another. But the community isn't the same; people don't comment on and follow blogs like they used to. Podcasts are quite popular at the moment, but I wasn't sure if that was right for my project - there are a lot of podcasts that I already listen to that are done with such high-quality... and it just didn't feel like the right fit. 

I didn't want to create an entirely new platform or community. If I personally didn't want to sign up for another thing and have to check another "thing," I know I couldn't ask other educators to do so, too. I want to meet teachers where they already are. Facebook? Nah. I actually quit that last summer, and I've never looked back. I definitely haven't regretted that choice. 

So... I like making videos, and I have a ton of fun being goofy and creative using WeVideo tools and posting instructional videos on my teacher YouTube channel... so why not go that route? ResetEDU projects often involve quite a bit of visuals. Plus, I'm a visual person... former art teacher holla! Viewers can subscribe to the channel, and I can hopefully somewhat seamlessly integrate into a habit (watching YouTube) that already have. I want to make it as easy as possible. So that's my gamble. I'm also trying to keep the videos short - five minutes or less? - to keep it really convenient and easy to watch. 


My future goals for the channel are to connect with people who have video production experience who are willing to donate time and/or services to help increase the quality of my work, and to help distribute the work load. (I'm 100% DIY right now!) 

My 10x goal is to make this my full time job; to travel around and help educators while creating video content that other educators can watch and apply to their own professional work! (LOL, who's ready to hire me - let's connect!)


When I first graduated college, my favorite tv show was an interior design show called "Interior Motives" with Christopher Lowell. He would decorate rooms, but use this process of steps that he applied to every space that he designed, like floors, ceilings, texture, lighting, accents, etc... I ate it up! I thought about it and applied it to my own spaces and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Dang, I wish that show was still around! 

If I could have that impact, to be what Christopher Lowell was to interior design, what Gordon Ramsay is to kitchens and restaurants, or Jon Taffer is to the bar industry, that would be the 10x result of my dreams!


Both the name "Reset" and the logo of my project are really significant to me. Because I teach computers, the idea of resetting/restarting is like the golden rule around here. Something's not working right: Have you tried turning it off and back on again?

So, I wanted a word for my project that was simple, but expressed that same sentiment. Also, my son, Iggy, who is now six, used to (and occasionally still does) struggle with temper tantrums and meltdowns, as all kids do. My husband and I had a trick when he was younger where we told him to press his "reset button" when he was getting too upset. Iggy would literally press an imaginary button on his body to refocus and calm down (kinda cute, huh?). RESET was perfect! 

When designing the logo, I knew that I needed to incorporate the universal symbol for restarting/resetting: you know, the circle with the arrow thing. But the cloud is incredibly symbolic, too. The cloud is a nod to a YouTube video recommended to me by my #LAX18 coach, Michael Kosko:

"The Cloud" is the unknown area, the indirect path, between getting from point A to point B (or, often times, alternate point C). The Cloud is that area of uncertainty, confusion, and frustration, where in order to move forward, you must get creative, explore new ideas, and walk into the unknown, even if there's a chance that you could epically fail. The Cloud is not only where I found myself in the middle of #LAX18, but where I imagine a lot of the teachers who need a Reset exist. 


I simply cannot forget to thank and give credit to my #LAX18 mentor, Kevin Jarrett, who has been incredibly patient and understanding throughout my struggles with getting this off the ground. His support (and directives to stop and take a break when I'm overwhelmed!) has been key. I've noticed how much even a quick text or check-in can help at times; just knowing someone is out there cheering you on is the best feeling. Thank you, Kevin!

Wow, this post became a whole lot longer than I had thought! I guess I've had a lot swirling in my head about all of this. I'm really excited about my project, and I hope that it connects with other educators, too.

Final thought: My project cannot continue without the support of as many other educators as possible. Please share my project with others. Please subscribe to the ResetEDU channel, follow the project on Twitter and Instagram, tell a friend... any and all support is appreciated! If you're interested in connecting with me on a ResetEDU project or episode, you can fill out the form here or contact me via the ResetEDU website.


- Mrs L.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Threadless Artist Shops: Put the FUN back in FUNdraising!

Last season, before I retired from roller derby, I was the marketing coordinator for my league. One of the projects we started was to create a Threadless Artist Shop to complement our other league merch offerings - we were able to offer special designs without having to carry additional inventory, as all of the products from Threadless are print-on-demand. Also, the packing/shipping/delivery is all handled through the Threadless company. There was literally no work we needed to do beyond uploading designs and getting the word out!

So, what's the catch?

The profit margins are considerably smaller with a Threadless shop. You can actually set the price yourself to make as much/little as you want per item, but keep in mind that if you set your prices too high, no one will actually buy your stuff! Threadless sets a "base" price of each item that covers the costs of the item + printing. You get to decide how much you want to add on top of that price, and that's your cut.

There are a TON of items (not just t-shirts!) that you can create and buy in a Threadless shop: sweatshirts, tanks, cell phone cases, water bottles, mugs, STICKERS, throw pillows, leggings, notebooks, zipper pouches, tote bags... and more!

from top left: sticker sheet, tote bag
center: zip up hoodie
from bottom left: leggings, kids t-shirt

That's nice. What's it got to do with school? 

Well, you (yes you, as an individual) can open up your own Threadless Artist Shop for FREE, and you can use it in a variety of ways:
  • Extracurricular clubs can design their own shirts! You can buy as few as ONE item. 
  • A bonus PTA "spirit wear" shop to complement any other merch/fundraiser apparel sales that might already exist. This is how we use it at my school!
  • Subject areas/departments can create their own coordinating apparel.
  • Student Council could open a shop to sell merch to promote specific events/activities.
  • Create "Class of..." designs for each grade level, and use them in conjunction with school spirit competitions! 
  • Open a shop to post student-created designs from a class assignment. Students are way more motivated when they can see a functional end result ("Wait, we're going to design a shirt you can ACTUALLY BUY?!") 
I actually began our school shop for selfish reasons. I wanted a school spirit shirt in black, but alas, there were none. So I DIY-ed it with the help of Threadless:

You can check out our own Sandburg Middle School Threadless Artist Shop here for more inspiration, or to grab some merch of your own! All of the proceeds from our shop go to our PTA, who then invests the funds in our MakerSpace!

What fun ways does your school raise money? Maybe try your own Threadless Artist Shop

Note: I am not a representative of/do not make any money from, nor was I asked to endorse Threadless in any way. I just really like their stuff, the process is super simple, and they're a local Chicago company that I like supporting! 

- Mrs L.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

LEGO-Inspired Minifig Portraits Using Google Draw Tools

I like to teach my students about Google Drawing tools because it's an often overlooked app in the suite of Google tools that I think has so many great uses! You've probably seen my Google Draw "Doodle Yourself" blog post in the past. That lesson is by far my favorite, but I have another lesson that I use with 6th grade students - not quite as advanced - but just as fun! We explore and practice using Google Draw tools to create custom LEGO-inspired minifig portraits.

It's a fun way to get to know a class, because they can customize their clothing and accessories to reflect their personal interests. These digital artworks look really cool printed out, and grouped together on a board, like these:

The minifig shape is iconic, easily recognizable, and universally loved. I have yet to come across a student who wasn't excited to create a project that involved LEGO in some way. I love that students can build their figures in a variety of ways, and get as detailed as they want. You can see the wide range of ideas in the photo above.

The way I teach this project is to use a Google Slides file that is shared by the entire class. Then, each student gets one slide with a minifig template as a background image. They can then build their figure by "coloring in" via layering shapes on top of the template. I like to use a Slides file because I can "lock" the background image down, and students can see what their classmates are doing and collaborate and share as needed. But you could also make these exclusively in Draw, too. Draw and Slides have the same tools, so by using the drawing tools on one, you are also learning the other.

Do you want to do this project with your class, too? Well, I'm sharing my Slides template with you today so that you can make your own copy and try it out in class!

I've also made a YouTube video that introduces the project and goes over basic Google Draw functions and tools for getting started. You can check that out here:

If you do this lesson with your class (or even just on your own for fun), I'd love to see the results! Consider sharing with me or tagging me on Instagram or Twitter so I can check them out! 

- Mrs L.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


So, I've been a little slow as of late on the blog, but it's because I've been about a zillion times more busy than normal IRL! The latest news is that I earned the final badge in my Google collection, Google Certified Trainer! Now I told everyone that I have #allthegoogles and hopefully they don't come up with even more because geez that'd be hard.

So, as of right now I'm still up to my neck in my Innovator project. I've done like three different video shoots for my first and second videos and then I decided that none of them were quite right and I'm back at square one and it's mega frustrating.

So because I need to just focus on that and get going, my former focus over here, the blog, has taken a bit of a back seat. But it'll come back ASAP. I've got a bunch of ideas to share, including a major project FLOP a couple weeks ago in 8th grade that I've really learned a bunch on and can share, and my new class website, and a super sweet robotics kit I was lucky enough to trial and share!

But first, breathe. :)
Talk soon!

- Mrs L.
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