Author: Robert Gordon

What we already knew about social media…

My post comes from one of the ISTE 2017 keynotes, Jennie Magiera. I am not attending ISTE, though I would love to be there, I chose to stay close to home for family reasons. I have been able to catch quite a bit of the conference via Periscope and #passthescope. Jennie's keynote was very inspiring. She told 5 stories of technology and education and opportunities to reach the students through the use of teachnolgy and story telling. At the end, she encouraged us to make a change through story. #ISTEStory (Look for her keynote to come out later this summer)

One of the stories she told had to do with social media and how it sometimes can make us and our students feel about ourselves. She referenced an article by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, titled: Don't Let Facebook Make You Miserable. In it the author points out several things that we should already know, mainly that people post the good things about their lives and fail to talk about the bad. He quotes, “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides,”  which is good advice when talking about social media.

I wanted to share this so you could read the article and have a tool to help you when you see a student that is letting social media make them miserable. 




Projecting a Chromebook

Being able to wirelessly transmit your computer or iPad screen is not new. For several years now we have been able to do this with the Apple TV. Though it was designed for the consumer, it has greatly benefited teachers in the classroom. What the Apple TV (TV) started, an app called Reflector picked up on, and improved on. It streams the screen on your wireless device to your computer, which in turn can be connected to the projector.

This included only Apple & Android products for the longest time, but now you can project a chromebook. Or better yet, if you purchase and install this app, have your students create projects on their chromebooks, and wirelessly transmit them to your computer with Reflector 2! For the advanced user, you can demonstrate how to do something on the chromebook via Reflector 2 and record it using your favorite screencasting software. Reflector 2 will change how you teach. Works on a mac or Windows. 

Check out how simple with this tutorial. you




Registration is Open

Over my years as an educator I have attend many conferences. Some in the state of Utah, some out of state. Some have been focused on technology in education, a passion of mine, and some are just on education. In my opinion, the best technology conference of them all is UCET. I would even venture to say is is the best education conference in Utah. It is definitely the best technology education conference in the state.

The reason I bring this up is that registration for the UCET conference is open. You need to register now. You can be a presenter, it’ll save you the price of admission and you will be able to share with other teachers the great things you are doing in your classroom. Register as a presenter here.

Or you can register as a participant, attend the keynotes and 8 sessions to gain more technology arrows in your quiver. I promise you, you won’t leave disappointed. If you teacher in a school in Utah, Idaho, or Wyoming, with students coming in and out of your classroom each day, there will be something at UCET for you! Come and learn with us.

Five Reasons to Still Use Gmail

Google’s addition to email many years ago was monumental to many people. I remember my really nerdy cousin giving me an invite really early on. Today, it may seems rather mundane to use a web based email client. The reasons can be many, for one, what if I have more than one email account. How can I check them all? Switching Windows? That doesn’t seem that productive. For another, the use of filters is a powerful way to get through that way too full inbox. In education, many of our district use GAFE (Google Apps For Education) which means that as teachers we have an additional email address to check and maintain. Also, our students have accounts, which may or may not be additional for them. With all this email pulling on us, it seems that all we do is read, reply, and manage email.  Gmail may not at first blush seem like the best tool to use, it is rather complicated, but with a little digging, and using some online tutorials, you can customize it to do exactly what you need done to make email much easier to manage. 

I would like to give you 5 reasons for using Gmail in your classroom.   


1. Gmail is a client that can gather you email form other sources. You can add your personal account, your school account, or have your other gmail account come to one gmail inbox. 

Start in the upper right hand corner with the “Gear” menu >Settings.

Go to >Labs >Multiple Inboxes >Select Enable

Go to >Accounts >Check mail from other accounts

Add your accounts, up to 5. You will need to know your passwords and account username, but it is worth the effort. 


2. You are able to use the tabs at the top of the gmail page to sort through your email and get to the messages most pressing.

Start in the upper right hand corner with the “Gear” menu >Configure Inbox

Select tabs to enable

These tabs are Gmails way of sorting your email. The Primary is basically person to person conversation, Social would be conversations from social networks, Promotions is generally from people trying to sell you things, etc. 


3. Messages in Gmail that have dates and times in them will like to your calendar if you add them as an event. This saves time and energy getting you directly to the tasks you need. and since many of our appointments are set up via email conversations, this should save you tons of time.

Some message highlight the date in blue, but even if they don’t, just click on the >More menu above your message and select >Create Event. This will take you to a calendar event, with the event name being that of the email subject. Just adjust the time and date.


4. With gmail you can use add ons. One that you should look at is: 

• Boomerang, which allows you to set a time to resend the message to you so you can deal with it later. It also will send your reply to an email at 6:00 am even though you answered at 11:00 PM the night before.

• Find more at:


5. The last reason is ubiquity. Any computer you sign into becomes your email computer. Everything stays the same! The same tags (folders), same tabs, same filters, same everything. No set up needed when you switch computers.


If I were back in the classroom today, the first thing I would do is gather the email of every students’ parent. This is easily done with a form, giving me the ability to send a personalized message to each parent via a mail merge.

Maybe email is dead, I don’t know, tell that to the 150 people sending me messages each day. Until they stop coming in, I need a way to manage my email and these 5 reasons have increased my productivity.

Screencasting on a Chromebook

The number of Chromebooks in schools is increasing everyday, and for good reasons that I won’t go into here. I recently had the need to create a screencast of a Chromebook screen. (A screencast is a small video recording that explains what you are doing on a computer screen.) There are so many tools on both Windows and Mac OS’s to do just this, but I won’t go into those here either. What about the Chrome OS that Chromebooks use? Turns out there are a few options there too. 

One clever trick that I will briefly mention is to use “Google Hangouts OnAir” to share and record your screen. This did work for me, but since our district doesn’t allow hangouts to be used in our Google domain, I had to use my personal account. Not ideal if you wanted this to become a student project. The pro was that nothing needed to be installed. The con was that there are many steps to go through, you have to edit the beginning and end, and hangouts has to be allowed. 

Chrome OS uses Apps or Extensions to get these specialty items done. There are a couple for screencasting. The one that I found to be the easiest was “Snagit” by TechSmith. It is free and easy to install. You may need to talk to your Google domain administrator to make sure that it is available for teachers and/or students, depending on your needs. Let me list the pros & cons.


  • Quick & easy installation.
  • Easy to start and stop.
  • The video goes to your Google drive, to a folder called TechSmith. This makes it easy to get to your computer.
  • Editing can then be done using your favorite tool on Windows or Mac by downloading (some conversion necessary, see cons)
  • Editing can be done in YouTube, if allowed by your Google domain. Use the “Create” tool in your YouTube channel.


  • The video is in an AVI format, not all editors will be able to work with it. YouTube converts it easily enough, and then it wen right into iMovie for me. TechSmith makes Camtasia, which I have and it was able to edit the AVI nicely. 

Screencasting is a great tool to use if you want to flip your classroom. Maybe you have access to some great software on Windows or Mac, here are some great options if not, but if you want to try a strictly “Chrome OS” diet, Snagit should be one of your tools of choice. 

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